Wausau mother to testify in support of bill putting crisis numbers on student IDs statewide

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Change is all around us this fall, and a woman who's daughter's best friend died by suicide this summer is hoping to create her own change.

Robin Patrick talks about Assembly Bill 531 (WSAW photo)

"It was insanely traumatic for my daughter," said Robin Patrick, reflecting on the memory.

Patrick took an idea from the family of the student who died and ran with it. She first got the crisis numbers printed on the backs of student IDs at Wausau West.. Now, she's pushing for it to go statewide, to all students.

"I just felt like I had to do it."

Rep. Rob Stafsholt, of the 29th district, introduced Assembly Bill 531 to make it state law to have crisis and suicide prevention numbers printed on all student ID cards. Stafsholt is also part of the state's Suicide Prevention Task Force.

On Friday, Rep. Stafsholt's office contacted Patrick and asked her if she could testify on Thursday in front of the Assembly's Committee on Education.

"It's so basic. It's so simple. It's so cheap. It makes so much sense," Patrick expressed.

The local crisis center serving Marathon, Lincoln and Langlade counties shows the total number of those under 18 who were served by crisis services was 362 in 2017. So far this year, it's at 533. And if the rate continues, North Central Health Care projects 711 youth will be served by crisis services in 2019. Numbers that show -- it's helping.

"It's got to start from the school district first, then the city, then the state. And if you can make the state happen, why not the nation?" Patrick said with a shrug.

She said it all comes down to giving hope to kids in moments when they feel there's no other choice.

"if you're given that glimpse of hope or that hand that reaches out to you to help you for just that moment, it might make the biggest difference in that person's life."

Patrick said it may not be a complete solution to the suicide crisis, but is a step forward.

During Thursday's public hearing, she'll be reading statements on behalf of the family of the boy who died by suicide, letters from family friends and a statement from Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke, who all support the bill.