Suicide rates rise across Michigan, with few answers

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Even as Michigan’s suicide rate rose by a third over two decades -‒ and climbing even higher among young people, rural residents and military veterans -‒ a fundamental question has yet to be fully answered.

Why?

“We need to get to the bottom of why this is happening,” said state Sen. Jim Runestad, R-Oakland County. “I don’t hear that’s being done.”

Runestad contends a commission on suicide can provide at least some answers, and could lead to a rapid, statewide approach to suicide prevention. In May, the Senate unanimously approved his bill authorizing a suicide commission, sending it to the state House Health Policy Committee.

A near-identical version of that measure is slated for a likely vote in committee Thursday. Health Policy chairman, state Rep. Hank Vaupel, R-Fowlerville, said he is “optimistic” of committee approval and that he anticipates a vote by the full House this fall.

“Very definitely we need to look at some of the causes of what’s going on and see what we can do to prevent it. I think it’s vitally important,” Vaupel said.

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