A bill proving funding for suicide prevention programs was signed by Gov. Kristi Noem on March 23 after passing through the House Health & Human Services Committee, the Joint Appropriations Committee, the House, and the Senate over the course of this legislative session.
Review more information about the need for HB1079, the bill itself, and how Lost&Found’s programs could do this work in this document, which was shared with legislators.
HB1079 will set aside $2 million for the South Dakota Department of Health to use for youth and young adult suicide prevention support programs. The funds are intended to be used for mental health and suicide prevention peer support training in high schools and colleges, for community mental health and suicide prevention data services, and for suicide loss response planning and support services—all of which address strategies outlined in the 2020-2025 SD Suicide Prevention Plan.
The Department of Health will select vendors and authorize expenditures to support these objectives. Lost&Found has programs either in place or in the works that can fulfill these objectives and intends to apply for these funds.
The bill addresses a funding need. Some programs currently fulfilling the peer support objective will have their current funding expire by June 2024. There is no current funding source for data services or suicide loss response services for schools in South Dakota.
Moving the bill forward through the S.D. Legislature required a concerted educational effort involving many people over the course of several months. Here is what Lost&Found CEO/Executive Director Erik Muckey had to say after the bill cleared its final vote on March 1:
I could not be more grateful today for our team at Lost&Found, the co-sponsors of this critical legislation (Taylor Rehfeldt For House, Sydney Davis for District 17), our local representative who gave so much to this cause (Representative Linda Duba District 15), and the mighty student voices of South Dakota Student Federation and their fearless leader, Caleb Weiland, not to mention the many legislators who supported this bill and put it through both chambers over the past few weeks. I also can’t say enough about the support of my partner, Sadie, and all of her encouragement through this entire process. Today, the SD Senate followed the House and approved $2 million in investment for youth and young adult suicide prevention programs. Today is a special day for South Dakota. Today, there is hope.
Review the wording of the bill and its progress through the Legislature here.
Recordings of the discussions of the bill at each stage of the process can be found below.
House Health and Human Services Committee (1/24/23) – Passed, Yeas 13, Nays 0
Joint Committee on Appropriations (2/23/23) – Do Pass Amended, Passed, Yeas 14, Nays 4
House of Representatives (2/27/23) – Do Pass Amended, Passed, Yeas 56, Nays 13
2022 brought new challenges and opportunities to Lost&Found, and the organization responded by expanding its mission in several ways. This expansion is highlighted in Lost&Found’s 2022 Annual Report.
“We’ve never worked harder to make a difference than we did in 2022,” CEO/Executive Director Erik Muckey wrote in the report’s introductory letter. “Whenever we encountered a challenge, we found a way—because this work matters and is needed now as much as it ever will be.”
Review the ways in which Lost&Found expanded its mission in the 2022 Annual Report.
One of the key ways in which Lost&Found responded to current needs was by taking on the work and mission of the former Sioux Falls-based nonprofit Survivors Joining for Hope. Lost&Found now has a Postvention services department, along with the prevention work that it is at the core of its mission. In just four months, Lost&Found had already served eight families that had lost a loved one to suicide as part of Lost&Found’s Survivors Joining for Hope program. Staff members also provided postvention policy support to an institution that had suffered several losses by suicide.
Lost&Found also expanded its mission in other areas:
Responding to suicide statistics showing that suicide is the leading cause of death for children as young as 10 in South Dakota, Lost&Found expanded its target demographic to ages 10 to 34.
Lost&Found expanded the number of post-secondary institutions served by its programs to 12 and the number of students served to more than 150.
Lost&Found completed its second year of the 30 Days, 30 Stories project for National Suicide Prevention Month in September and added a comprehensive advertising campaign promoting the 30 Stories project as well as the message that “Suicide Is Preventable.”
Lost&Found added several staff members in 2022, including a senior prevention specialist based in the Black Hills, which facilitated the expansion of student programs to three Black Hills-area campuses.
The addition of new staff members in the Sioux Falls area prompted the relocation of Lost&Found’s office to a larger space in downtown Sioux Falls (319 N. Main Ave.).
Read more about Lost&Found’s work in the 2022 Annual Report. Also take note of the 570 donors that made that work possible. The report ends with a vision for 2023.