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SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert signed eight suicide prevention bills into law at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
The bills signed will help improve the state’s crisis line, add elementary school counselors and a pilot program for students, among other things.
Utah’s lawmakers and suicide prevention advocates hope the new measures will help save lives in the state, which is among the highest in suicide rates in the U.S.
"I'm sure there's not anybody here, probably not anybody we know that's not been touched in some way other another with family or friends or acquaintances that have had the misfortune of taking their own life,” Herbert said before signing the bills. “It leaves a hole in our society, it leaves a hole in our hearts."
The bill signings followed the creation of a Suicide Prevention Task Force in February. Herbert said the new bills would show the state putting "effort behind our faith and hope."
In addition to signing the bills, Herbert announced the state received a $150,000 donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and another $50,000 donation from Intermountain Healthcare to help fund suicide awareness and prevention.
"This is not the end of the work by many of these great people,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said. “In fact, I'd say it's much more of a beginning as we move forward."
Cox credited fellow officials for putting more state money toward suicide prevention, noting that lives are being saved from the conversations being held about suicide.
Grateful to all those who came together to pass and support meaningful legislation on suicide prevention and mental health. This is just the beginning of Utah's effort to lift up the hearts of all among us. #utpolpic.twitter.com/TaOmiB7c2e— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) April 24, 2018
Sydnee Dickson, Utah State Board of Education Superintendent, said she hoped the efforts will help curb teen suicide rates.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband, a member of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, also spoke at Tuesday’s ceremony. In addition to the church’s donation, Rasband also serves as a representative for the LDS Church on the task force formed in February.
“For those who feel there is no hope, please know that you are loved and valued. We see you and we hear you," he said in a statement. “We need you and we love you. Talk to someone now. We are here to listen and to help.”
- Utah County Crisis Line: 801-226-4433
- Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386