SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Recognizing the immense personal, familial and societal trauma resulting from suicide deaths, state Rep. Mark Walker, D-Arlington Heights, has co-sponsored legislation which would update Illinois’ suicide prevention strategy.
“In 2017, suicide caused nearly 1,500 deaths in Illinois alone,” Walker said. “If we’re not working to eliminate that number, we are failing our residents. It’s vitally important that the Department of Public Health and other state agencies have the resources and the right strategy to help everyone impacted by suicide.”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2017, suicide was the third leading cause of death of people aged 15 to 34 and the fourth leading cause of death of ages 35 to 54. Combined, more than four times as many people died by suicide in Illinois in 2017 than in alcohol related motor vehicle accidents.
Addressing these concerns, Senate Bill 1425 would require the Illinois Department of Public Health, in coordination with the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance, to develop the Illinois Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan using evidence based practices and to promote any coordinating activity needed to implement them. This plan is informed by the Zero Suicide model – a commitment to safer suicide care in physical and behavioral health care systems for those suicidal individuals who often fall through the cracks. If implemented, Senate Bill 1425 would also require the Department of Public Health to submit an annual report to the governor and General Assembly on the effectiveness of these strategies to reduce suicide in Illinois.
“Investing in social services like suicide awareness and prevention plans is critical for the health and wellbeing of our state,” Walker added. “The state has lagged behind in this area. We can no longer ignore the needs of those suffering from debilitating mental illness or anguish. Proactive legislation like this bill helps to put a focus on those Illinoisans in urgent need of help.”