State Rep. Tina Orwall was honored on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, at the Forefront launch event among a crowd of about 350 people, for her work on suicide prevention.
In 2012, the Des Moines Democrat sponsored ESHB 2366, known as the Matt Adler Suicide, Treatment and Management Act, named after a 40-year-old Seattle attorney, husband and father of two, who in 2011 took his own life in the midst of a battle with severe depression and anxiety. His widow, University of Washington social work professor Jennifer Stuber, who believes early detection and competent care in the treatment of suicidal thoughts could have saved his life, worked closely with Orwall to craft the legislation.
“I am honored and humbled by this recognition, and am certain that the work of Forefront will be critical to move forward our suicide prevention legislation and education efforts,” said Orwall when she was presented with Forefront’s inaugural public service award, aptly named after the lawmaker. “Forefront will ensure that best practices approaches are used to identify and treat individuals who suffer from mental illness and suicide ideation because we know that early intervention saves lives.”
The law–first of its kind in the nation–requires mental health professionals, social workers and occupational therapists to receive six hours of training every six years as part of their continuing education requirement.
To ensure that these important policies deliver on their potential to save lives, Jennifer Stuber and Sue Eastgard, a suicide prevention advocate and trainer, founded Forefront, an organization committed to developing and disseminating innovative, evidence-based approaches to suicide prevention.
Forefront, established at the University of Washington, brings together suicide prevention experts, clinicians, students and loss survivors to advance big-picture changes in public policy, training, and communication about mental health and suicide prevention.
In the 2013 legislative session Forefront helped advocate for the passage of another Orwall bill that improves the capacity of schools to identify and intervene with students who are struggling with emotional issues and suicidal thoughts. The organization will help train school counselors and work with administrators to develop school crisis plans that include responding to suicidal behavior.