Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
02/02/2005 01:30 PM HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES
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SB 60-EXTEND SUICIDE PREVENTION COUNCIL 1:33:26 PM SHANNON STRAUBE, staff to Senator Ben Stevens, introduced SB 60, which would extend the termination date of the council from June th 30 2005 to June 30 2006. Senator Ben Stevens submitted the bill and the legislative audit recommended the extension. 1:34:53PM KATHY CRAFT, Suicide Prevention Council coordinator, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), offered a brief update on the council. She advised the goals this year are to broaden the awareness of suicide and the risk factors, to enhance prevention services, to develop healthy communities, and to strengthen existing and build new partnerships between public and private entities that will advance suicide efforts in Alaska. 1:36:13 PM The Suicide Prevention Council has a contract with the Alaska Injury Prevention Center for a study involving psychological autopsies. They work with the Department of Public Safety to obtain information on individuals who commit suicides. After an appropriate mourning time, they contact the families to see if they would contribute to the study. They have asked for an extension of the study, which ends June 30, 2005 so they can gather more information. The study collects information such as suicide rates by age group, methods of suicide, substance abuse involvement, ethnicity, and urban vs. rural. 1:37:51 PM MS. CRAFT said they have plans to train communities for when suicide becomes an issue, what the community can do. They have started a public awareness campaign titled "Suicide Hurts", and have had posters printed. They have drafted television and radio scripts but are lacking funds to complete the effort. They are working on continuing the clergy initiative, which brings the prevention treatment together with clergy. The annual report will be submitted in two weeks. 1:39:19 PM CHAIR DYSON asked who is able to speak regarding the graphs and trends in the packet submitted to the committee. MS. CRAFT answered she is. CHAIR DYSON asked when should the state expect to see reductions in the suicide rate. MS. CRAFT answered it depends on economics and services available. She said in 2004 the rate did increase. CHAIR DYSON asked when the council was created. MS. CRAFT advised it was 2002. 1:41:29 PM CHAIR DYSON asked Ms. Craft about next year's goal in suicide reduction. MS. CRAFT advised the council would like a 10 percent reduction in 2005. CHAIR DYSON asked which state departments partner in the effort to reduce statewide suicide rate. MS. CRAFT replied the Department of Health and Social Services, the Division of Behavioral Health and Public Health, the Trust Authority, the Mental Health Board, the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, the Alaska Commission on Aging, and the new Faith-based Community Initiative Forum. CHAIR DYSON asked about the Department of Education, the school system and the police department. MS. CRAFT agreed those entities would also serve to promote their efforts. CHAIR DYSON asked for other questions. 1:43:18 PM CHAIR DYSON complimented the efforts of the council and asked if it was still disproportionately rural native males committing suicide. MS. CRAFT answered yes. It is also disproportionately people in their 20s. She hopes that once the structured training and the media campaign begin they will see positive results. 1:45:19 PM CHAIR DYSON asked the percentage of suicides involving mind- altering drugs. MS. CRAFT replied 73 percent for those with a history of substance abuse, but the total is 62 percent. CHAIR DYSON asked whether the suicide rate would be reduced if firearms were not available. MS. CRAFT answered they plan to address firearm security in their community training efforts. 1:47:50 PM SENATOR LYDA GREEN asked how the council is faring overall. MS. CRAFT advised they are involved in writing proposals and working with community-based suicide prevention planning. They are working with the Division of Behavioral Health to incorporate a plan into their grant responses. The council and DHSS are working on a formal system regarding the budget. 1:49:47 PM CHAIR DYSON asked Pat Davidson to explain the money spent on furniture and the money transferred to the Terminal Leave and Insurance Catastrophe Working Account. PAT DAVIDSON, Division of Legislative Audit representative advised Chair Dyson that DHSS used approximately $30,000 to buy furniture for information technology services. There was no direct benefit to the suicide prevention council. There is a provision in statute that when you have joint costs, then everyone pitches in. She added there is a format for using joint funds that was not followed and she advised that would be addressed in the statewide financial audit. 1:51:57 PM CHAIR DYSON asked whether the council had any control of DHSS's decision to use the council's money. MS. DAVIDSON replied no. The budget act appropriation term is Boards and Commissions. There is the ability to move monies within the appropriation but DHSS did not follow the guidelines. A contributing factor is unclear financial information between the department responsible for administering funds and the council. The council was impaired by a lack of financial understanding, which is why almost $95,000 lapsed at the end of the year. 1:54:07 PM MS. DAVIDSON explained the transfers into the Terminal Leave and Insurance Catastrophe Reserve Fund are existing statutory provisions for otherwise lapsing funds to refill reserve accounts. She added that the council did not know where they were financially. SENATOR KIM ELTON asked Ms. Davidson if there are mechanisms available to allow for reimbursement back to the council. MS. DAVIDSON replied that an appropriation is an opportunity to spend money. If the council doesn't spend the money they lose it. The Legislature could increase the current year budget and the council could have the opportunity to access the funds that were lost. 1:56:39 PM SENATOR ELTON asked if there is a mechanism to redress one unit spending the money allocated to another unit. MS. DAVIDSON answered that a possible recommendation is the department could appeal the appropriation. She recommends in future years, the DHSS administrative department take responsibility for financial communications to the council. SENATOR GREEN asked Ms. Davidson if allocations and appropriations could be more clearly defined in the future. MS. DAVIDSON answered that by statute, agencies are allowed to move money within an appropriation. CHAIR DYSON asked the council to get back to the committee with a reasonable performance target for the future. 1:59:38 PM CHAIR DYSON said the suicide rates in the State of Alaska are 2- 3 times the national average. The council needs to show that it makes a difference. 2:01:03 PM SENATOR GREEN suggested to the council that they include their mission and plan in their publication. 2:03:17 PM SENATOR GREEN moved SB 60 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. There being no objection, the motion carried.