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Windy Boy suicide prevention bill passes second reading

Third and final reading set Monday, only three senators opposed the bill


Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder

Staff and wire report

Legislation sponsored by a Rocky Boy legislator aimed at reducing the number of suicides by youth in Montana could soon head to the governor's desk for his signature.

The state Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a bill by Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy Saturday that seeks to provide additional resources to anti-suicide programs. It would authorize grants using existing money from a special revenue account.

The Senate approved the bill, which combines parts of several suicide-prevention bills and includes recommendations from a study requested by a Windy Boy bill last session, on a 43-3 vote.

Sens. Frank Smith, D-Poplar, Mike Lang, R-Malta, and Russ Tempel, R-Chester, all voted or the bill.

The only "nay" votes were from Sens. Steve Hinebauch, R-Wibaux, Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, and Senate President Scott Sales, R-Bozeman.

Three senators were absent and excused from the vote.

The bill is scheduled for a third and final vote Monday.

Montana has among the highest rates of suicide in the country over the past four decades. The state has a rate twice the national average.

A state report released last year identified 555 known suicides in the state between Jan. 1, 2014, and March 1, 2016.

The bill has already passed the House and is the only suicide-related legislation still pending in the current session.


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