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As I See It

Lawmakers make a difference without appointing a blue-ribbon commission, or breaking the bank

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It might be the best decision by Wisconsin lawmakers this session. And perhaps the smartest use of our tax dollars. The Wisconsin Legislature passed the bill which the Governor has now signed into law, requiring all schools in the state to print information about suicide prevention on their ID cards. All schools in the state, both public and private, from kindergarten through college will issue new ID’s which contains contact information for available suicide prevention hotlines. The costs to our schools and universities will be negligible. They simply have to add more words to the ID’s. But the benefits could be significant. The hope is that those who are struggling, as well as their family and friends, have a visible reminder that help is available. Too often, a mental health crisis turns into a permanent tragedy. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among  Wisconsin adolescents. Five times as many people die of suicide in the state than in alcohol-related car crashes. The state’s suicide rate has risen by 40% since 2000. Clearly the problem is growing. But this effort shows our lawmakers are sometimes capable of coming up with common-sense and inexpensive solutions that may actually make a difference.

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