Suicide prevention bill designed to educate teachers

 (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

New legislation is proposed in Delaware to add more resources in schools for teen suicide prevention.

“We know that if people are trained and educated to see the warning signs, they can intervene and help a child who is thinking about doing harm,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst.

To achieve that goal, Rep. Longhurst, D-Delaware City, along with Sen. Nicole Poore, D-New Castle came together at the Delaware City Community Center to announce House Bill 90. They were joined by mental health and youth advocates to explain the bill and how it would help educators across the state.

“So often in the tragic cases of teen suicide, there are warning signs that are simply missed,” said Sen. Nicole Poore, D-New Castle. “We owe it to our kids to make sure the right people and processes are in place in our schools, so it’s more likely our kids get the help they need, when they need it.”

This is all part of an ongoing effort to help young people who often think of ending their lives by committing suicide. Suicide is often thought of as a permanent solution to a temporary problem added Sen. Nicole Poore.

If all goes well, and House Bill 90 becomes law it would mandate annual suicide prevention training sessions for public school employees. In fact, legislators said schools would be required to establish suicide prevention and response committees and suicide prevention policies by September 2016. According to Longhurst the policies would include confidential procedures and anonymous reporting of at-risk behaviors.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control CDC investigated a cluster of suicides in Kent and Sussex counties after a total of 11 young people committed suicide within a period of four months. As a result, it was also found that victims and those who attempted suicide had a number of identifiable risk factors. Now House Bill 90 directly addresses what CDC officials have discovered through suicide prevention training in schools.

In the meantime, people are reminded to pay attention to risk factors for suicide such as depression, substance abuse and aggression.

“Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 10 and 24. Also, a survey of American high school students found that 16 percent had considered suicide in the last year, 13 percent made plans to end their own lives and 8 percent attempted to do so,” said Longhurst who quoted those numbers from CDC reports.

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