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.
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.
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