State lawmaker eyes ‘major structural reform’ to behavioral health system


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Monday marks the end of National Suicide Prevention Month. It’s an epidemic that hits our state particularly hard.

“In just the past year, we’ve lost more citizens than the population of Huntsville, Utah. It is the leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24. So, it truly is a public health crisis,” said Rep. Steve Eliason, (R) Sandy.

Eliason has run several suicide prevention bills over the years.

For the next legislative session, he’s pushing for “major structural reform” to the behavioral health system.

He wants to expand beds at the state mental hospital, improve integration between physical and mental health, and build mental health receiving centers.

Think Urgent Care for mental health.

“Where somebody can walk in, law enforcement can also do a drop off there, there’s no refusal. They get the specialized care and treatment they need, on a timely basis,” said Eliason.

Parents also play an important role. Make sure to be aware of the signs.

“It’s really any change in behavior. A change in the talk, anything with, you know, a change with sleep patterns, change in eating habits. Anything that’s at the extreme, talking about, I wish I had never been born,” said Kathy Davis with the State Board of Education.

And, be ready to intervene with a candid conversation.

If you or a loved one are in need, help is available.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

You can find local support at

Also, make sure to download and use the Safe Ut App.


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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. 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...