By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)– Thirteen-year-old Tammy Le wiped away tears as she begged lawmakers to help save the lives of her friends.
“If they don’t have anyone to turn to, they’ll just start believing what anyone says and they won’t have any confidence or courage in themselves anymore and they’ll end up hurting themselves.”
Le was among the teenagers who testified in favor of a bill at the state Capitol that would allow kids ages 12 and up to see a therapist up to three times without their parents’ permission. Right now, those children need to be 15 years old.
Sixteen-year-old Chloe McNamme lost her brother to suicide.
“If there had been a figure in his community who had sufficient suicide prevention training, he’d still alive today. Instead, he died at 14 years old.”
A year later, McNamme would try to end her own life.
Her mom says she found out about her daughter’s suicide attempt from a counselor, “She did not want to tell me or my husband that she was feeling so depressed and suicidal because we’d been through so much with my son Ethan.”
Suicide is the number one cause of death among young people ages 10to 24 in Colorado.
Bill sponsor Rep. Dafna Michaelson-Jenet, a Democrat representing Adams County, says suicide is an epidemic and, for her, it’s personal.
“I am a parent who’s survived a son’s attempt at suicide. My son was only 9 years old and he is in a loving, caring family. Sometimes our kids don’t think we can hear them and if we can give them an avenue where they can get the support and that pathway to be able to talk to the parents and to bring the parents along I believe we could stop a child from ever even getting to suicide.”
But Jeff Hunt with Colorado Christian University says parents should be brought in after the first visit.
“This will protect parental rights and allow mental health professionals in an educational setting to provide immediate care if that’s needed.”
The bill would also require the Office of Suicide Prevention to provide training for people like camp counselors and youth group leaders in suicide prevention. It would also launch a statewide campaign to raise awareness of suicide as well as the state’s suicide prevention hotline.
Dozens of people on both sides of the bill showed up for the hearing before the House Health Care and Human Services Committee Friday. After five hours, of what was often heartbreaking testimony, the committee delayed a vote on the bill while Michaelson-Jenet works on the concerns of opponents.
SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1.844.493.8255 or text TALK to 38255