SALT LAKE CITY — A bill creating suicide prevention coordinators for the state was passed Wednesday by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee despite concerns about funding the $250,000 cost.
The sponsor of HB154, Rep. Steve Eliason R-Sandy, told the committee he was aware of the concerns and was working on finding another way for the Utah State Office of Education and the Department of Human Services to pay for the prevention effort.
"This bill is too important not to pass," Eliason said, adding that despite Utah being No. 10 in the nation in teen suicides, there is no position in state government dedicated to suicide prevention.
Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said the bill likely won't succeed unless another source of funding is found. He said lawmakers have already had to reject other critical requests for money in other areas of the budget.
"There has got to be a way in an almost $5 billion budget we can get education to fund this," Thatcher said.
Eliason said he was approached for help by parents in his districts after three students at a middle school took their own lives.
"As I studied the issue, I became quite alarmed," he said, calling suicide a "silent epidemic" that needs attention.