Bills would require suicide prevention education for teachers and age-appropriate information for students

LANSING, Mich. – State Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing) and State Representative Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) introduced bills today in both chambers of the Legislature to require that teachers are trained in suicide prevention education, and that students are taught age appropriate information to identify warning signs of depression and suicide.

“It is heartbreaking to see a family mourn the loss of a child, especially when the tragedy could have been prevented. What we know about suicide is that it’s often a silent problem,” said Sen. Hertel. “We let people, including children, feel that mental health is a problem to which the solution is insurmountable. But it isn’t, and having the necessary tools to identify the warning signs saves lives.”

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people age 10 to 24. According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, more than one in six high school students in the U.S. reported having seriously considered attempting suicide in the 12 months preceding the survey, and 8 percent of students (about one in 12) reported having attempted suicide in the preceding 12 months.

“The tragedies in our community over the last year have made it clear that we need to take direct action on increasing suicide prevention efforts at every level. With suicide being the second leading cause of death for young people, it is imperative that we are doing everything in our power to provide the necessary resources and educational tools to teachers, school districts, parents and students in order to help prevent these kind of tragedies,” said Rep. Singh. “I hope these bills will not only help to significantly lower the suicide rate among young people, but will serve to be the start of a much larger conversation on this issue.”

Senate Bill 464 and House Bill 4772 would require that school personnel be appropriately trained in identifying the warning signs and risk factors of suicide and depression, and the protective factors that prevent suicide. It would also require that students are given age-appropriate instruction to increase awareness for the warning signs and risk factors for suicide and depression.

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