• Amendments broaden scope of project
  • Next stop for bill is appropriations

By Joseph Claypoole
Washington State Journal

A Washington Youth Suicide Review Team is one step closer to reality after legislators passed substitute HB 1354 out of committee in a 11-2 vote.

Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, D-Goldendale, the prime sponsor of the bill, saw the bill introduced into committee Feb. 1.

Rep. Mosbrucker’s bill would establish the WYSRT to review the circumstances related to suicides occurring among youth up to age 24.

The team would review medical records, conduct voluntary home interviews with parents and utilize other strategies to discover if any common factors exist among young people who commit suicide.

“The goal of the bill is to literally lay out every suicide case under 24 in the state of Washington during 2020,” Mosbrucker said. “And to figure out what’s the nexus because kids are struggling…far more than they used to.”

After collaborating with advocacy groups and concerned citizens, a substitute bill was introduced and passed out of committee on Feb. 15.

Changes to the bill focused on increasing privacy protections around medical records and other documents.

The substitute bill also requires the team to increase the range of youth for possible review to 25 and adds a review of access to lethal means to their analysis.

According to Rep. Mosbrucker, the addition of access to lethal means alongside autopsy reports and other review strategies are extremely important for suicide prevention.

Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, said the Washington Legislative Youth Advisory Council was in strong support of the substitute bill, but asked that youth be included in the review team.

“Very clearly, they just said, ‘This is about us and we need to have a voice,’” Rep. Ortiz-Self said.

However, finding a youth tied to the issue who wants to participate is going to be difficult, according to Rep. Mosbrucker.

“[SHB 1354] says that we can add an additional member and it will be voted on by the team,” Rep. Mosbrucker said. “We don’t want to re-trigger [anyone], so that’s my only concern… but, we want to make sure their voice is heard.”

Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake said he thought some Republicans might have concerns about the cost of the program.

Mosbrucker said her team is working on revising costs and expects to present an acceptable proposal when the bill gets to the House Appropriations Committee.

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