NEW RICHMOND, Wis – Representative Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) and the Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention released nine proposals for co-sponsorship today. In an effort to raise awareness of this issue, legislators on both sides of the aisle worked with members of the public to craft proposals that can benefit all Wisconsinites.
“Being on the Suicide Prevention Task Force has been a humbling, yet rewarding job,” said Representative Stafsholt. “Suicide is never an easy topic to discuss, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed in a timely matter. Every life matters, and as legislators, we must do all we can to protect our friends and families.”
The legislation introduced at today’s press conference will create a variety of programs that are aimed at helping all Wisconsinites in need. The programs range from Farmer Tuition Assistance Grants, and continuing education requirements relating to suicide for health care professionals, to Grants for a Suicide Prevention Program within the Department of Health Services and Grants to the Wisconsin Safe and Healthy Schools Center.
“Mental Health issues are very wide-spread in Wisconsin and are dramatically different from person to person,” said Representative Stafsholt. “Our proposals target high-risk demographics and makes certain that all people are given a chance to live a healthy and happy life here in Wisconsin.”
Two proposals, relating to young people in Wisconsin, have been authored by Representative Stafsholt. The first would create a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program in high schools. These programs, often called “Hope Squads” or “Sources of Strength,” train students to recognize suicide warnings in their peers and to report those signs to an adult. The second bill ensures that all future identification cards issued by a school include contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
“As a parent of a high school student, I’m constantly reminded of the burdens many children face every day,” said Representative Stafsholt. “We must work to build an environment that shows compassion and trust amongst our student’s peers. However, there will be times when friends and loved ones aren’t by a child’s side. Our children must be reminded that a kind voice on the other side of the phone, someone that isn’t a friend, parent, or relative, can help in dark times.”
Since April, the members of the bipartisan task force, which was co-chaired by Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) and Representative Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska), examined a variety of topics to combat this challenging, and unfortunate problem. The Task Force was asked to examine:
- State resources and programs dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness
- Opportunities to target and assist at-risk individuals
- Ways to better harness the use of technology to reach and understand vulnerable populations
- The use of evidence-based programs and protocols
- The use of treatment of support service options and barriers that hinder individuals from receiving needed care
A copy of the Report sent to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) can be found here.
If you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 or text “HOPELINE” to 741741.