Michigan Senate committee seeks study of suicides involving psychiatric patients

.(Georgetown behavioral health)
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 12:47 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The Michigan Senate is looking for more information about a rising trend of psychiatric patients committing suicide hours after they leave treatment facilities.

The Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services passed a bill Thursday calling for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to investigate any deaths by suicide or unknown causes involving anyone who was discharged from a psychiatric facility within 48 hours.

Democrat State Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint sponsored the bill to obtain more information about where and how many of these deaths occur, so the Legislature can look into possible reforms in Michigan’s mental health laws.

“If you’re a parent or caregiver, when you check your loved one into a psychiatric facility, you should feel relieved knowing that they are going to get the care, support and therapy they need,” he said. “But unfortunately, we are seeing too many of these situations end in tragedy. My bill will help us get to the bottom of this and identify ways we can improve Michigan’s mental health care system for all patients.”

Ananich said lawmakers have a responsibility to detect alarming patterns in the state and develop safeguards to protect the public. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Michigan and the second leading cause of death among people age 10 to 24.

The state’s mental health community has raised concerns this year about increased suicide rates due to people spending more time isolated at home for the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unless we start investigating these deaths and analyzing the data, we will be making policy in the dark," he said. "We must act with urgency to make sure these horrible situations don’t go ignored and continue to repeat themselves.”

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