Kupchick and Hwang look to reduce youth suicide

With suicide being the third leading cause of death among youths between the ages of 10-24 in Connecticut, State Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) and State Senate Tony Hwang (R-28) have authored legislation which requires training for health care professionals.

Kupchick testified in support of HB-6276, An Act Concerning Training for Health Care Professionals in Youth Suicide Prevention in the legislature’s Public Health committee public hearing on March 4.

The legislation would require professional counselors, alcohol and drug counselors, marital and family therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, clinical social workers and master social workers to complete 3-6 hours of training every six years in youth suicide prevention. And additionally would require physicians, physician assistants, chiropractors, naturopaths, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to undergo a one-time, 3-6 hour training course in youth suicide prevention.

“It is crucial that state health professionals be trained and equipped with the essential tools needed to understand suicidal behavior and help their patients,” said Rep. Kupchick. “It is important to know that suicide is preventable, Connecticut should do everything possible to identify people at risk and provide the appropriate care before it’s too late.”

Rep. Kupchick proposed this bill after constituent, Nancy von Euler lost her daughter Emma Jane to suicide in 2009.

In written testimony Nancy von Euler submitted to the committee said, “My daughter’s pediatrician saw Emma just 3 weeks before her death for a hormonal disorder that causes depression. Had she understood the risk of suicide in teens like Emma, would she have treated that disorder more aggressively or, perhaps, referred her to a psychiatrist for an assessment? If her therapist, who she saw the night before she ended her life, had had specific training in assessment of suicide risk, would she have picked up a sign that would have allowed us to intervene before it was too late?”

During testimony, Rep. Kupchick was alongside State Rep. John Hampton of Simsbury and Reverend Robert D. Flanagan of Bridgewater, who is a volunteer field advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Rev. Flanagan talked about how he has counseled people that have attempted suicide or were in the grip of suicidal ideation.

Kupchick said the bill is a bi-partisan concept with Rep. Hampton, Rep Devlin and Senator Hwang also supporting and co-introducing the legislation.

Senator Hwang said, “Suicide is preventable, and it is clear threat to public health. It is incumbent upon us, as elected representatives, to do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of the public. This bill is one necessary step to further that mission.”

According to the state Department of Mental Health Addiction Service, studies show that 83% of individuals who died by suicide had visited their Primary Care Provider within 12 months prior, 20% within a day of their death, and 58% of older adults age 55+ within a month of their death. In addition, 66% of individuals were not in mental health treatment at the time of their death.

During testimony, Rep. Kupchick was alongside State Rep. John Hampton of Simsbury and Reverend Robert D. Flanagan of Bridgewater.

During testimony, Rep. Kupchick was alongside State Rep. John Hampton of Simsbury and Reverend Robert D. Flanagan of Bridgewater.

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