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Live Mic: McAdams’ bill to study factors triggering suicide

Ben McAdams joined Lee Lonsberry to talk about his suicide prevention bill. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News, Oct. 3, 2019)

SALT LAKE CITY  — Utah has the fifth-highest rate of suicide in the nation. Suicide is the seventh-leading cause of death in the state. And suicide rates in the Rocky Mountain states lead the nation.

Could location be a factor in this deadly equation? A Utah congressman wants to find out.

Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to talk about a bipartisan bill he is co-sponsoring to study the risk factors leading to suicide, which McAdams said are still poorly understood.

Finding the triggers

Substance abuse and mental health are two of the main intuitive causes behind suicide but there are other influences, he said.

“There seems to be some evidence that geography, altitude, and even air pollution may have put somebody at a disproportionate risk of suicide…but we don’t really understand it,” he said.

The congressman said his legislation,  “Advancing Research to Prevent Suicide Act,” directs the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health to direct existing funding for competitive research grants to colleges and universities and nonprofit organizations to better understand the growing rate of suicides.

Bipartisanship equals success

McAdams said the aim of the bill is to study and better understand the disproportionate risk factors behind suicide. Then, armed with that knowledge, he says we can target prevention efforts when those triggers are greatest, such as certain months or specific events.

McAdams is joined by House co-sponsor Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzales of Ohio.

In the Senate, the bill’s main sponsors are Republican John McCornyn of Texas and Democrat Jacky Rosen of Nevada.

The House passed the bill 385-8 in January.

“Nothing gets done in Washington unless it’s bipartisan,” McAdams added.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.

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