Senate Health And Welfare Committee Approves Legislation To Address Increasing Suicide Rate

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved legislation on Wednesday establishing a Tennessee Suicide Mortality Data Review and Prevention Team in the Department of Health to address the growing number of adult suicides in Tennessee.  The Suicide Prevention Act of 2018, which is sponsored by Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), calls for the team to gather suicide data identifying causes and factors in order to direct limited prevention resources in the most effective way possible. 

“Almost twice as many people die by suicide than by homicide in Tennessee,” said Senator Crowe.  “On any given day, three people in Tennessee die by suicide and the rates have increased steadily over the past three years.  This legislation brings together the state’s foremost experts to analyze important data regarding these deaths so that we have the best plan of action to reduce suicides in Tennessee.” 

There were 1,110 suicide deaths in 2016, which is the highest number recorded in Tennessee in over 35 years of record-keeping.  This is compared to 945 deaths in 2014 and 1,065 deaths in 2015.   

“These numbers are very alarming,” added Senator Crowe.  “If not for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and the limited number of staff and the work of the Advisory Council, which is appointed by the governor, all of the statewide volunteers and partners, these numbers would be much higher." 

Under the bill, the team would be composed of a physician and a nurse appointed by the Commissioner of Health, as well as designees from the Departments of Health and Mental Health and the chairs of the health committees in the Senate and House of Representatives.  The group would make recommendations for changes to any state law or policy that would promote the prevention of suicide deaths or improvements to the way suicides are investigated and/or reported.  They could also propose strategies for prevention of suicide deaths on which TSPN can focus.  Recommendations would be made to the health committees by January 2020.  

TSPN Executive Director Scott Ridgway applauded Senator Crowe's leadership and thanked the Senate Health and Welfare Committee for passing this bill.  “I am excited about the potential of this bill,” he said.  “Obtaining accurate numbers and other information on suicides in Tennessee will enhance TSPN’s strategic outreach efforts to be able to better prevent the tragedy of suicide in Tennessee.  One suicide is one too many" 

The legislation dovetails with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, as issued by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, that calls for local health officials to routinely collect, analyze, report, and use suicide-related data to implement prevention efforts.

4th Annual "Tighten Up" Blood Drive Honors Cancer Patients

Blood Assurance will host the fourth annual “Tighten Up and Donate” blood drive Friday, March 23 in honor of the late J.D. Wooten, who lost his battle with acute myeloid leukemia in March 2014. Signal Mountain resident Cindy Pare created the annual blood drive event in honor of her father, a resident of Raleigh, NC.  Mr. Wooten was a lifelong blood donor before becoming ... (click for more)

New Partnership Says They Will Help Save Lives During Sudden Cardiac Arrest Events

Hamilton County Emergency Communications District, CHI Memorial, Parkridge Health System and The American Heart Association have joined together to bring PulsePoint of Hamilton County, an initiative that proponents say will ultimately save lives in the community, to the Scenic City.  PulsePoint of Hamilton County is a free mobile app that alerts registered users whenever ... (click for more)

Weather Channel Correspondent Hunkering Down In Chattanooga As Storm Approaches

A Weather Channel correspondent was hunkering down in Chattanooga on Monday night as a fierce storm approached. Reynolds Wolf said he, along with his cameraman and producer, were ready to take shelter in their nearby hotel should the storm become dangerous. He said at 8:40 p.m. that the skies were calm at the time, but the radar showed trouble ahead. The storm, carrying ... (click for more)

Volkswagen To Build New 5-Passenger SUV In Chattanooga

Volkswagen officials announced Monday that they will build a new five-passenger SUV at the Chattanooga plant at the Enterprise South Industrial Park. Governor Bill Haslam was among those on hand for the announcement. It will be a variant of the seven-passenger Atlas that is already under production here. Like the Atlas, the new model will be designed and engineered for ... (click for more)

Remember The Full Story Of Toys-R-Us - And Response

It is always disappointing when any business is forced to close because of competition. Big box stores do this to smaller retailers every day. And while Toys-R-Us seemed to be an unstoppable force, they have finally succumbed to online ordering and simplicity.  But if you think about it, when Toys-R-Us came into existence, imagine the number of “mom ‘n pop” toy stores that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Very Stupid Letter

Not a one of you has ever heard of a lady named Megan Jones Bell.   But, because our state legislature is determined to allow California’s unique brand of crazies to pull Tennessee down to its loathsome level, our state lawmakers probably never will. Megan is a paragon in the field of mental health strategy – i.e., ‘What's the smartest thing for state government to do right ... (click for more)