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Governor Polis signs bill aimed at reducing youth suicide

Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law on Thursday that makes mental health services for youth in Colorado a priority.

Democratic Governor Jared Polis signed a bill Thursday to make mental health services more available for kids.

The new law standardizes screenings to better identify mental health needs early in a kid's life. 

It also seeks to implement comprehensive "wraparound" care coordination services to get kids the right care at the right time and start building out ways to blend funding across agencies to more comprehensively support behavioral health needs.

"We have a suicide crisis in our state," Polis said. "Colorado needs to do a better job serving those struggling with mental health. It's time we work together as a state to implement bold solutions to address this crisis."

RELATED: 'No one should bury their child': How a teen's parents are sparking change months after he took his own life

Two of the people behind this effort are parents whose son killed himself last fall. Jason and Kari Eckart shared their story about their 15-year-old son Robbie with 9NEWS in November. They didn't know he was struggling.

Robbie ended his life Oct. 11. The Eckarts came home and found him after attending Robbie’s parent-teacher conferences at Lakewood High School.

The couple has since created a foundation called Robbie's Hope to erase the stigma surrounding teen mental health.

"We are teaching our youth it's OK to not be OK and to have hope," Kari said during Thursday's bill signing ceremony. "Hold on. Pain ends. Mental illness is treatable. Suicide is preventable. Today is a hopeful day for Colorado."

RELATED: Robbie’s Hope: Parents want son’s life to be a catalyst for suicide awareness

The new law also creates a team that will evaluate how Colorado treats kids struggling with mental health and what can be improved in the future.

"The gaps in our state's mental health system won't be solved overnight, but together we are taking a big step toward a more comprehensive system to support our kids," said Senator Rhonda Fields, one of the bill's sponsors. "We need to continue to make youth mental health a top priority. The time for change is now."

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