During his State of the State Address in January, Governor Ducey announced Arizona’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan to increase access to mental health care, collect new data and ensure treatment is available to all Arizonans. The plan followed months of stakeholder meetings and engagement, led by Department of Health Services (ADHS) Director Dr. Cara Christ, and built on Arizona’s substantial efforts to date to combat suicide.
With suicide emerging as a serious public health issue both nationally and in Arizona, Governor Ducey and leaders throughout the state continue to take action. These efforts include:
Ensuring Access To Mental Health Care
Governor Ducey in March signed S.B. 1523, also known as Jake’s Law. The legislation, introduced by Senator Kate Brophy McGee and Representative Jeff Weninger, requires health care insurers to cover mental health without additional barriers — just like they would cover an annual physical. It also established an $8 million Children’s Behavioral Health Fund to help kids get needed behavioral health services.
Supporting Our Veterans
Data shows that veterans in Arizona die by suicide at a rate 17% higher than non veterans.
In 2017, Arizona implemented the Be Connected Program, which focuses on early intervention by connecting Arizona service members, veterans, families and helpers to information, support and resources, such as peer support and behavioral health services.
In 2019, Arizona invested $1 million into the program. Additionally, the New York Times published a story last year highlighting the program’s success as a national model for peer-to-peer support services.
The Governor this week also issued a proclamation supporting the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). The plan empowers veterans and takes steps to end suicide through suicide prevention efforts, prioritized research activities, and collaboration across public and private sectors.
Focusing On Our Youth And Students
On September 11, 2019, Governor Ducey signed S.B. 1468, also known as “the Mitch Warnock Act,” legislation to expand suicide awareness and prevention training in Arizona’s public schools. The bill requires school districts and charter schools to provide training in suicide awareness and prevention to school guidance counselors, teachers, principals and other school personnel who work with students in grades 6 through 12. That same day, the Governor declared the month of September 2019 to be Teen Suicide Awareness Month in Arizona to raise awareness of the issue of teen suicide and highlight ongoing efforts to prevent it.
Additionally, the Governor proposed in his executive budget and signed into law the first-ever dedicated funding for school counselors.
Governor Ducey also issued a proclamation recognizing this week, September 6 - 12, 2020, Suicide Prevention Awareness Week in Arizona to highlight programs and services available throughout the state.