MAGNA, Utah – Governor Gary Herbert was at Cyprus High School Friday to ceremoniously sign new laws.
The bills passed by lawmakers during the 2013 Legislative Session went into effect this week, and many of those were relevant to teens and young adults. Herbert was at Cyprus High in Magna to sign five bills into law.
Three of those laws focus on trying to curb suicide in young people. Utah has the seventeenth highest suicide rate in the nation, and Herbert says he’s unhappy about that statistic.
In addition to Utah legislators, family and friends of teen suicide victims were included in the event.
“It was great. I got to meet with families who have also lost kids to suicide,” said Darren Lewis, whose son committed suicide
The governor turned the ceremony into a round-table event asking the audience what more should be done to reduce Utah’s high suicide rate. He asked the audience to raise their hands if they’d ever lost someone to suicide. Nearly every person in the room had a hand raised.
“It’s demonstrative of the need for addition programs and resources when it comes to this difficult subject,” said Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy.
Eliason helped draft two of the suicide prevention bills. He says other states that have passed similar legislation have had positive results.
“They were able to reduce suicides in their states by about 10 percent. It’s such a preventable problem that if the resources are made available, people can be helped,” he said.
The two other bills signed on Friday dealt with distracted driving and school classroom sizes. Many felt the ceremony’s tone was optimistic and they left feeling hopeful for progress.
“I think it’s great to have the input of the public if it’s affecting us. I think it’s good for us to have our opinions out there,” said student Ana So.