AUGUSTA – In an effort to bring more awareness and resources to State employees, Governor Paul R. LePage signed an Executive Order Monday requiring departments of State government to issue a “Suicide Awareness and Prevention” policy. Collaborating with the National Association of Mental Illness Maine, the Governor’s Executive Order provides State government the responsibility to ensure the continued relevance of suicide awareness and prevention.
From 2007 to 2012, 1,169 people died by suicide, according to the Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics, an average of more than 194 deaths by suicide each year.
“Suicide is a major public health issue and has a devastating effect on Maine’s families, schools, faith-based organizations, businesses and communities,” said Governor LePage. “It is a preventable tragedy. We hope this policy will empower employees to take action to make a difference.”
The Governor’s Executive Order requires each State agency to implement through training a policy to educate and make employees aware of resources available should they become concerned about the suicide risk of a co-worker or experience suicidal tendencies themselves. It is hoped that other Maine employers will model the State’s suicide awareness and prevention policy currently being developed.
Additionally, Governor LePage supported the recent passage and implementation of LD 609, “An Act to Increase Suicide Awareness and Prevention in Maine Public Schools,” for the implementation of suicide prevention protocols.
Today, the Maine Suicide Prevention Program will honor the Governor for his dedication to suicide awareness and prevention efforts. First Lady Ann LePage will accept the “Caring about Lives” award, on his behalf. The event will be held today at 2:00 p.m at the Blaine House, Augusta. The Governor is in Canada meeting with business leaders and is unable to attend the event.
A similar Executive Order was signed in 2011 by Governor LePage with regard to “Domestic Violence and the Workplace” policy. State government is required to provide employee training delivered in partnership with the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. The Administration also created a toolkit, which includes domestic violence facts, a sample policy for businesses and a video, to assist businesses of all sizes recognize and respond to domestic violence abusers in the workplace.
The Executive Order language is as follows:
AN ORDER REGARDING SUICIDE PREVENTION AND WORKPLACE POLICIES WITHIN DEPARTMENTS OF STATE GOVERNMENT
WHEREAS, suicide takes a life in Maine every two days and is the fourth leading cause of death for adults ages 35-54; and
WHEREAS, in Maine, a person is seven times as likely to die by suicide as they are from homicide; and
WHEREAS, persons of working age have the highest rate of suicide and that rate continues to incline; and
WHEREAS, the impact of a suicide attempt or suicide can be devastating on those left behind and can have a strong negative impact on program and agency staff; and
WHEREAS, the State of Maine, as an employer, is committed to promoting the health and safety of its employees; and
WHEREAS, the State of Maine, as an employer, desires to ensure that employees have the education and awareness of resources to appropriately respond when concerned about the suicide risk of a co-worker and that those experiencing suicidal tendencies understand that seeking help is encouraged and expected;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, hereby order as follows:
1.Each State agency shall issue a “Suicide Awareness and Prevention” policy (“Policy”). The Policy shall be reviewed, updated, and re-issued annually during the month of September, Suicide Prevention Month.
2.Each State agency shall implement the Policy via employee training delivered in partnership with the National Association of Mental Illness Maine.
3.Each State agency shall post, in a conspicuous location, information about suicide prevention and available community resources.
The provisions of this Executive Order are not intended to alter any existing collective bargaining agreements or to supersede applicable laws. Any costs to State agencies for implementing this Order shall be utilized with existing resources.
The effective date of the Executive Order is September 10, 2013.
Paul R. LePage, Governor
September 10, 2013