New bill would create statewide office of suicide prevention to help reduce CA suicide rates

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

As many people face isolation and job loss due to the coronavirus pandemic, suicide prevention has never been more critical than now.

Mental health hotlines nationwide, including here in Central California, have seen a surge in calls. The month of June saw 18 suicides in Fresno County alone -- that's nearly double from the previous two years.

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"The issue of suicide just didn't happen overnight; it's been going on. But with COVID and what's been going on now in the state and heighten awareness of those that are out there contemplating suicide drastically need these resources," said Assemblymember James Rames (D) San Bernardino County.

Ramos has introduced Assembly Bill 2112, which aims to create a statewide office of suicide prevention to reduce California suicide rates.

The bill would allow for the collection of regional data to pinpoint the demographics of where resources are needed most -- rather than taking a one size fits all approach.

"If someone has to call the 1-800 suicide helpline, we've missed a whole opportunity to get resources in front of them. Resources in front of family members, resources in front of loved ones to see the characteristics that something might be going on in someone's life," said Ramos.

Ramos says California lacks adequate state-level leadership when it comes to suicide prevention.

State Senator Melissa Hurtado of Sanger is joining Ramos in urging the governor and Legislature to back AB 2112.

They say millions of residents would benefit from support and prevention strategies that are not currently in place.

"AB 2112 is needed, it needs to move off the Senate floor and off to the governor, and we need to make sure we put pressure to make sure the governor understands the importance of this and sign this bill into law."

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline.org
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