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Suicide Prevention

  • Sen. Tom CullertonNew law will create alert system for missing veterans

    VILLA PARK – A new law to alert police and emergency professionals of missing veterans will take effect Jan. 1, thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).

    Cullerton’s House Bill 4212 expands the use of the Endangered Missing Person Advisory system known as the Silver Alert to veterans who are believed to have physical or mental conditions related to their service. It was signed into law on Friday.

    Per the new law, the public would be notified when a high-risk veteran goes missing. The alert would be similar to Amber Alerts, which are already used by the state to locate missing children.

    “Our veterans have put their lives in harm’s way to protect us. When our heroes return home, we need to find ways to look out for them,” Cullerton said. “This new law will help us save lives.”

    The effort is the latest in a long line of veteran protections put in place by Cullerton.

  • Sucide awareness 1Every year, more than 1,000 Illinoisans die by suicide, representing nearly three deaths per day. Illinois teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 have the highest suicide attempt rate for any age group in the state.

    In an effort to bring increased attention to the serious public health concern, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) passed a resolution recently declaring June 13, 2018 Suicide Awareness Day in Illinois.

  • Sen. Tom CullertonVILLA PARK- Illinois veterans may soon have another outlet for therapy, thanks to Villa Park Democrat, Tom Cullerton.

    This is Cullerton’s first initiative from the Veterans Suicide Taskforce that signed into law today.

    “Our veterans are our community’s heroes. Illinois’ military members and veterans put their life on the line every day, now is the time for us to take care of them,” Cullerton said. “Every life we save is priceless.”

    Cullerton’s Senate Bill 866 to require the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to provide information and education on service animals to veterans is now law.

  • Veterans presser 050317SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to combat alarming veterans suicide statistics in the nation.

    According to a recent study by the U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.

    This week, Cullerton advanced House Bill 2647 with bipartisan support out of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

  • Senator Tom Cullerton
    SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has started tackling obstacles found during the Veterans Suicide Taskforce hearings.

    Cullerton advanced Senate Bill 1693 to allow deceased veterans with military service to include their veteran status, branch of military and the period of time served in the military on their death certificate.

    “We need to get to the cause of veteran suicide,” Cullerton said. “The only way to tackle the problem is to have a complete picture. This is a simple way to collect statistics and honor Illinois’ veterans.”

    The idea was suggested by DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgenson, who indicated that veteran suicide was under reported since Illinois death certificates do not include information on the history of U.S. military service.

    “These are our nation’s heroes. They took care of us, now it is our time to take care of them,” Cullerton said. “Every life we save is priceless.”

    Cullerton also advanced Senate Bill 866 to require the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to provide information and education on service animals to veterans.

    Under current law, the DVA isn’t required to provide information or resources on how a veteran might obtain a service animal.

    “The DVA should be a one-stop shop for our veterans,” Cullerton said. “There is a stigma within the veterans’ community on receiving traditional treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  We haven’t been able to explore the effects of using service dogs as alternative treatments since there is a lack of awareness in the veterans’ community.”

    Cullerton hopes this small step will help make service dogs readily available to veterans to cope with PTSD. There is a high demand from returning veterans for service dogs as alternative treatment. However, trained dogs can be difficult to find.

    “Using service dogs as treatment for PTSD could one of the keys to ending the veteran suicide epidemic,” Cullerton said.

    Senate Bill 866 and Senate Bill 1693 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs with bipartisan support.

  • koehler mntl hlthSPRINGFIELD – Students returning to college in a few weeks will have the authority to empower their university to share mental health information with their parents.

    The new law, House Bill 3599, was inspired by the Predmore family of Bartonville, who tragically lost their son Chris to suicide last year. Under previous Illinois law, his college could not talk to his parents about his mental health struggles.

    “It is my hope that this new law will help prevent tragedies like this from occurring,” said Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate. “College is a time when many students show signs of mental illness, and they will now be allowed to choose whether or not possibly crucial mental health information is shared with their parents.”

    A number of recent studies indicate that psychological problems are a growing issue on college campuses. For example, a survey found that that 70 percent of college counseling center directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years. Surveys of college students themselves have shown that depression and anxiety have skyrocketed over the past several decades – perhaps as many as a quarter or a third of students meet criteria for anxiety or depression during college.

    The new law not only gives newly-enrolled college students the opportunity to authorize the university to share mental health records with their parents, but other trusted adults as well. Universities will only share information when students are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

    House Bill 3599 is effective Jan. 1, 2016.

  • AFSP SPWAccording to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over 40,000 suicides were reported in 2013. This places suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

    September 6-12 is designated Suicide Prevention Week to help spread awareness about the severity of this issue and put a stop to the steady increase in yearly suicide rates.

    The Illinois Senate recently passed legislation focused on preventing youth suicide, and it was signed into law on August 21. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park), initiated the plan after a traumatic local experience.

  • tcull vets suicideVILLA PARK- A study released this year by Federal Department of Veterans Affairs and Army researchers suggests that the suicide risk for returning veterans who served in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is significantly higher — 41 percent to 61 percent higher — than for the general population.

    To find ways to combat this epidemic, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has been appointed to the Illinois Veteran Suicide Task Force. As a veteran himself, Cullerton has a good perspective on issues facing many returning military members.     

    “Our veterans have risked their lives and made sacrifices to protect our freedoms and democracy,” said Cullerton. “When they return home, it’s our duty to find ways to look out for them.”

    The Illinois Veteran Suicide Task Force was formed by a measure Cullerton led in 2014. The task force will investigate the causes of veteran suicide, form policy recommendations and report back to the General Assembly.

    The Federal Department of Veterans Affairs and Army state that 10% to 18% of returning veterans are likely to have Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after they return. Some studies suggest that suicide risk is higher among those who experienced trauma due to the symptoms of PTSD.

    “It’s our duty to help veterans transition back into civilian life,” Cullerton said. “Our hope is we will learn more and implement programs to treat the causes of veteran suicide. We need to arm veterans with resources to cope with their depression and PTSD.”

    The taskforce must report on their findings to the General Assembly by December 31, 2016.

  • koehler mntl hlthSPRINGFIELD – The governor signed a law that would give college students the authority to allow their university to share mental health information with their parents today.

    It was inspired by the Predmore family of Bartonville, who tragically lost their son Chris to suicide last year. Under previous Illinois law, his college could not talk to his parents about his mental health struggles.

    A number of recent studies indicate that psychological problems are a growing issue on college campuses. For example, a survey found that 70 percent of college counseling center directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years. Surveys of college students themselves have shown that depression and anxiety have skyrocketed over the past several decades – perhaps as many as a quarter or third of students meet criteria for anxiety or depression during college.

    “If I had a child in college who was considering committing suicide, I would want to know,” said Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate. “For many students, college is a time of transition when mental illnesses first manifest themselves.”

    The law gives newly enrolled college students the opportunity to authorize the university to share mental health records with their parents or other trusted adults. The university would only share information when students are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

    “Yes, college students are adults who deserve privacy rights,” Koehler said. “But many are living on their own for the first time and still rely on their parents for advice and support. This law respects student privacy while still allowing parents to be involved. It also could start important conversations about mental illness.”

    The measure, House Bill 3599, was sponsored by state Representative Dave Leitch (R-Peoria) in the Illinois House. It will take effect next year.