House committee considers Mosbrucker bill to create youth suicide review team

The House Children, Youth and Families Committee is expected to take action later this week on a bill by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker that would create a team of experts to look into the reason for suicides of young people up to the age of 25.

The committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1354 on Feb. 1.

“This is a very difficult topic to discuss, but I feel we need to address it. Due to COVID, many young people are staying in their homes, being educated in an virtual environment. They're not having in-person interactions with other classmates. We are seeing an increase in suicides here in Washington state and across the nation,” Mosbrucker told the committee.

“In Washington state, suicide is the second leading cause of death among those 15- through 19-years old, and more than 16 percent of those in that age category have reported making attempts on their lives. That's chilling,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale. “There's enormous frustration and heartbreak in not being able to reach these kids in time.”

House Bill 1354 would establish the Washington Youth Suicide Review Team to review the circumstances related to suicides occurring among youth up to age 25. The team would include youth psychiatrists and psychologists, a social worker, youth health care workers, advocates for people with mental illness, a member of the educational community, a county coroner or medical examiner, a member of the clergy, a law enforcement officer with suicide prevention experience, a representative of a tribal health department, a member of the child protection system, and a family member of a youth who died from suicide.

“We need to answer the question, 'why?' We are not doing that right now. As a state, we are great at saying, 'thoughts and prayers for you and your family.' The numbers, however, are astronomical and they are rising. We need to do more,” said Mosbrucker. “We must have these difficult conversations and try to figure out why these kids — these beautiful young lives — are repeatedly attempting suicide.”

Under the bill, the Washington Youth Suicide Review Team is instructed to perform an in-depth review of each instance where a person under age 25 has died by suicide during the 2020 calendar year, excluding suicides on tribal reservations if the trial government opposes the review.

“All of these experts are going to sit at a table and pull up the case of every single suicide that happened in 2020. They're going to lay these cases side-by-side to compare and see what is the commonality,” added Mosbrucker. “What is the one thing we are missing to intercept these thoughts of suicide? We hope this bill will help provide some answers.”

The measure has been scheduled for committee action either Wednesday, Feb. 10 or Thursday, Feb. 11, depending upon the committee chair.


Washington State House Republican Communications