Lawmakers OK bill affecting youth at risk of taking own lives
Gov. Kate Brown's signature awaits a bill that requires mental health providers to disclose — with some exceptions — relevant information to parents or guardians of minors at risk of taking their own lives.
The Oregon Senate cleared House Bill 3139 without amendment on a 27-1 vote June 3.
The bill emerged after the death of Chloe Wilson of Eugene, who took her own life at age 14 on Feb. 26, 2018. She died a few days after she lobbied for more attention to mental health issues facing youths.
Oregon reported in 2018 that suicides were the second leading cause of death for youths between ages 10 and 24.
Her father, Jason Wilson, and stepmother Roxanne Wilson then spoke out for legislation in the 2019 session.
Current law already says a provider "may" disclose such information to parents or guardians to ensure planning for the safety of minors. The bill changes it to a requirement if there is an "imminent and serious threat" of minors taking their own lives, but specifies exceptions.
The revised bill provides three exceptions: if a provider "reasonably believes" the adult has abused or neglected the minor, or subjected the minor to domestic abuse; if such disclosure could endanger the minor; or if disclosure is not in the best interest of the minor.
Dr. Daniel Nicoli, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Lake Oswego, spoke for the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association in Senate committee testimony May 18. He also testified at a House committee hearing.
"The amended bill will allow us to proceed in a way that includes experts on youth suicide prevention to support better communication, opportunities for family support in safety planning and reduction of deaths by suicide," he said.
"Many of us are parents and we do not dare imagine the grief of losing a child to suicide. We, too, would likely go through a process of trying to find answers to what else could have been done and how the outcome could have been different. We would also think about how we would have done anything to save our child. We thank the sponsors of this bill for bringing this important issue forward."
The House passed the bill on a 57-1 vote April 13.
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