Hi. I’m State Senator Joan Ballweg.
Last session I was appointed chair of the Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention, which was created to study and make policy recommendations to reverse the increasing rates of suicide in Wisconsin. Ten pieces of legislation were introduced to target and assist at-risk populations in a bipartisan effort.
One important concern that emerged through this work is that we need consistent data regarding the circumstances of these deaths. From county to county, there is variability in the certification and classification of deaths. In order to better inform preventative measures, it is helpful to have accurate and comprehensive data regarding what led up to these tragic and preventable events.
This session, I am serving as the chair of the Legislative Council Study Committee on Uniform Death Reporting Standards, which is comprised of both public and private sector subject-matter experts. Our goal is to review the current reporting protocols for investigating the causes of deaths and to develop legislation to provide minimum requirements to promote the uniformity of these protocols through best practices, such as death investigation teams or statewide standard death investigation forms. The standardization of these procedures will allow for more robust implementation of not only suicide-prevention measures, but also initiatives to prevent many other types of deaths.
I’m looking forward to working with the members of this committee and developing recommendations that will improve supports for these at-risk communities.