The Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention was created in March to study suicide and suicide prevention in the state of Wisconsin. The Task Force held 6 hearings around the state and offered their recommendations on September 25. Those recommendations have been drafted as bills and are being introduced in the legislature for action this fall. The Task Force recommendations include:
- Suicide Prevention Program. A bill is being introduced that will require the Dept. of Health Services to implement a suicide prevention program to increase public awareness of issues relating to suicide and suicide prevention. The bill will create 2 Full time positions at DHS, one of which will be the Director of Suicide Prevention. The bill requires DHS to work to development educational materials, provide training, and coordinate with local government and local organizations to address suicide prevention.
- There is a bill to provide suicide prevention programming grants. These grants will likely work in a similar fashion to the grants DHS currently does for opioids. They will reinforce some of the efforts that local groups.
- There is a bill to provide grants for preventing suicide by firearm. These grants are available to organizations, coalitions, or local governmental entities to share information and training with firearm dealers, firearm ranges, and firearm retailers about suicide and suicide prevention.
- There is a bill to provide grants to public, private, and tribal schools that operate peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs.
- There is a bill to provide additional grants for the Wisconsin Safe and Health Schools Center. This is often referred to as WISH centers.
- There is a bill to require that all elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational entities to include suicide prevention information on student IDs.
- There is a bill to provide tuition assistance grants to low-income farmers to enroll in a course on farm and business management techniques by a technical college.
- There is a bill to provide interim psychologist license. This bill requires that an individual must pass all the requirements to obtain a license by the Psychology Examining Board, but this eliminates the 2,000 hours of supervised experience. Again – this is an interim license. They still need to complete their supervision hours and gets a permanent license.
- There is a bill to require more continued education for certain health professionals – including: substance abuse counselors, clinical substance counselors, Prevention specialists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors.
In addition, some of the Democratic members of the Task Force wrote a Minority Report, saying they didn’t feel the Task Force recommendations did enough to address firearm issues surrounding suicide.