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.



Tai Chi For Arthritis Program Announces Fall Classes

Tai Chi for Arthritis is a program designed to improve the quality of life for people with arthritis and others. The program includes agile steps and exercises that may improve mobility, breathing and relaxation. The movements have higher stances, which make it easy and comfortable to learn. It’s led by a Tai Chi for arthritis certified instructor.    Choose from three ... (click for more)

Orange Grove Center Hosts Special Olympics Area 4 Football Tournament

What is special about the athletic field on the Orange Grove Center campus is twofold. It was the football field for the Central High School Purple Pounders back in the late 50s. It was there that generations of Purple Pounders learned never to be forgotten life lessons. The other special thing is that this Saturday, it will be the site where new life lessons and life-long ... (click for more)

President Trump To Come To Johnson City Next Monday To Campaign For Marsha Blackburn

  President Donald Trump will travel to Johnson City to campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, Republican who is in a tight race with former Gov. Phil Bredesen. Tickets are to cost $10,000 per couple at the event next Monday. For $25,000 per couple, you get a photo and a roundtable with President Trump. Vice President Mike Pence has made several appearances ... (click for more)

Mountain City Club Considering Sale Of Downtown Club To Developer Defoor

Officials of the Mountain City Club are considering sale of the property at Eighth and Chestnut to a developer. Dan Saieed, club president, said the board was approached by developer Byron Defoor with an offer for the property. He said the club is facing declining membership and extreme  financial issues so is considering the offer. The Defoor group developed the nearby ... (click for more)

Arming Teachers With Guns Will Be Too Dangerous - And Response (4)

Arming teachers with guns in the classroom, as Bill Lee proposes, would be the single most dangerous thing to happen to students in Tennessee history. Students and teachers in close proximity to loaded firearms daily? Across this state, in middle schools alone, there are probably hundreds of student/teacher conflicts a day. What if a student got hold of gun in a struggle with ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s So Sad For Me

I cannot remember a time in my life when I have been as saddened by such a travesty that has now erupted in the confirmation process that would place Brett Kavanaugh on our Supreme Court. I am sad for every single person who has been touched by this catastrophe, from 85-year-old Dianne Feinstein to Brett’s wife and two young daughters, ages 13 and 10. Not a person, in any way involved, ... (click for more)