Kenyatta appointed to Suicide Prevention Task Force

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila, responds to statewide Suicide Prevention Task Force appointment:

Thank you to Governor Wolf for this appointment to the unprecedented Suicide Prevention Task Force. As public servants, we are obligated to ensure our residents are physically, emotionally and mentally well. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues to help Pennsylvanians in crisis know that they are valued and to develop long-term solutions to curb this depressingly increasing trend.

Suicide is the 10th national leading cause of death, according to a 2018 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It has also greatly impacted my life. While I was in college, my friend took his own life and it forever changed me. I made the decision to mourn with a mission by launching a program called STEPS to provide mental health services to other students in similar situations on campus. As a state legislator, the worst day since being elected was when I received a phone call from the grandmother of 11-year-old Phillip, a child from my district, informing me that he died by suicide, after being constantly bullied. He sought help from the few mental health professionals at his school, but he was told to wait. Unable to receive the help he needed, he went home and took his own life. After hearing of Phillip’s death, I honed back to my goal of turning my grief into purpose. In Phillip’s memory and to prevent the loss of another young life to this tragedy, I introduced legislation-Phillip’s Law- to ensure mental health help is available when students need it most.

If you or someone you love is in crisis or you are considering harming yourself, free help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.