House committee favorably refers measure to increase suicide prevention funding

Todd Epp, South Dakota Broadcasters Association, contributed this report.January 24, 2023News
House committee favorably refers measure to increase suicide prevention funding

PIERRE, S.D. – The House Health and Human Services Committee this morning (Tuesday) favorably recommends a bill to provide $4 million in additional funding for suicide prevention programs.

Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt from Sioux Falls, House Bill 1079’s sponsor, says she has lost two family members to suicide.

She cited several statistics showing the problem in the state. She says suicide is the leading killer of youth and young South Dakotans and the 10th leading cause of death.

Rehfeldt says the measure doesn’t replace efforts by the state Department of Health but is meant to bolster them.

She says the state should not rely on unpredictable federal funding and begin aggressive data collection.

Several college students representing the state’s universities and peer counseling programs also testified in favor.

The only person to appear in the opponents’ time was Mark Fuller with the Noem administration’s Bureau of Finance and Management.

Fuller noted that suicide funds are in the Department of Health, Department of Public Safety, and Department of Social Services budgets.

He said the committee should refer the measure to the Joint Appropriations Committee.

On a 15 to 0 vote, the committee favorably referred the bill to appropriations.