"Kenny's Law" reaches state senate

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JEFFERSON CITY - State lawmakers said they are taking steps to combat the teenage suicide rate in Missouri, after a case in Missouri caught national attention.

Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis), who lost her mother to suicide, is sponsoring Senate Bill 791, which would make it illegal to "incite someone to take their own life." Some people are referring to it as "Kenny's Law," since Nasheed is working with residents from Glasgow where Kenneth Suttner took his own life in 2016. He was allegedly bullied by his manager at Dairy Queen leading up to his suicide.

Nasheed said she knows how it impacts the lives of those close to anyone who takes their own life, and she wants to make sure no one is making the situation worse.

"I take it serious, because I was without a mother due to suicide," Nasheed said. "I know how it impacts the lives of families."

The lawyer handling Kenny's case, Howard County Special Prosecutor April Wilson, said this legislation is important because teens are being desensitized to bullying, and even joking about suicide.

"You say things over Instagram or Facebook that you would never say in person," Wilson.

She said her research has shown her that teens are making punch-lines out of what is a very serious issue.

Senator Nasheed and others spoke in favor of the bill during committee on Monday, including some attendees sporting "Suttner Strong" t-shirts, in support of Kenneth Suttner and his family. 

While the bill faced no direct opposition, many lawmakers expressed concerns about the language over what constitutes "inciting someone to take their own life."

The bill will have to be voted out of the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence committee, chaired by Senator Bob Dixon (R-Springfield), before moving on to either legislative body. The committee is expected to vote on the bill in the next couple of weeks.

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