Suicide prevention advocates push for mental health bills

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Mental health is being called one of the most critical issues of our time. That’s why advocates are on Utah’s Capitol Hill sharing their stories with lawmakers.

It’s all part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 4th Annual State Capitol Day.

A call to action on a crisis gripping Utah.

Advocates come from across the state to share their stories of the devastation they know firsthand.

Tracy Balch lost her daughter. Emily, a few years ago. Just two weeks before her high school graduation.

“Her life was just starting, but she had dealt with a lot of the mental health and depression for so many years. We know with her writings that she’s done that we were lucky to keep her those 18 years,” said Balch.

Balch is from Richfield, Utah. where resources for her daughter were sparse.

That’s why she’s asking state lawmakers to increase access in rural Utah.

One bill she’s pushing is House Bill 32 sponsored by Representative Steve Eliason.

It would provide funding for additional mobile crisis teams across the state and create receiving centers open 24/7/365 for those facing a mental health emergency.

“We can reduce our suicide death rate, our overdose death rate, we can affect the homeless issue. So many things we can do as we continue to talk about this and, as a state, put our money where our mouth is,” said Eliason, (R) Sandy.

Senator Daniel Thatcher is also addressing the issue.

Senate Bill 89 would create a pilot program to help those who don’t qualify for Medicaid and don’t have insurance pay for services.

“People that if we can’t get them help, they will either end up in the emergency room or they’ll end up in the morgue,” said Thatcher, (R) West Valley City.

And, House Minority Leader Brian King is working on mental health parity.

He wants insurers to treat mental health the same as physical health.

“It’s nothing but blatant, straight forward discrimination against individuals who are disabled due to mental health conditions, and it’s wrong,” said King, (D) Salt Lake City.

Balch is dedicated to the cause in honor of her daughter because if she can help save one life it’s worth it.

“It heals my heart. When you lose a child your heartbreaks,” she said.

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For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...

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