INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at requiring the Indiana Department of Health to annually prepare a report detailing all suicide and drug overdose fatalities in the state. 

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, authored Senate Bill 84, which describes a report that would include the number of fatalities in each county, the number of fatalities that occurred each month; the age, race and sex of victims; and the method of suicide or overdose, including the weapon. 

“This bill simply tries to give legislators a concise number of suicide and drug overdose by county,” Leising said, “because currently, there’s data reported annually, but it’s not something we all look at. And I worry it was my rural counties that not everybody has easy access to mental health services.”

Leising expressed her main purpose creating the bill: “My intention is to make sure that we as legislators have a real handle on deaths from suicide and overdose because I think, in a way, we are in the dark as we try to expand medical services.”

Jeff Staker, a retired veteran, gave testimony regarding his neutral stance on the bill. Staker shared his story about overcoming his 10-year addiction to opioids and how he used this to do further research into drug abuse. He made note of  Indiana's drug overdose rate rising 33% between 2019 and 2020. 

“I want you to be aware of the  consequences of these numbers,” he said.

Along with SB 84, five other bills were introduced to the committee. SB 84 passed 11-0, with Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, added as co-author. 




Emma Smith is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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