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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (February 23, 2016) – On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, volunteers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will host a media briefing at 9 a.m. in Hearing Room 3 of the Missouri State Capitol House to discuss the importance of passing suicide prevention legislation.
The advocates will then meet with lawmakers to encourage them to pass three pieces of legislation which would increase the number of elementary and secondary educators trained in suicide prevention (SB 646/HB 1546, HB 1656) and would require public institutions of higher education to inform college students about available mental health and suicide prevention resources (SB 627). Advocates are also encouraging passage of two Senate Continuing Resolutions that would designate the month of September as Suicide Prevention Month (SCR 50) and May as Mental Health Awareness Month (SCR 49).
“While Missouri’s suicide rate is a serious public health problem for the state, we also know that suicide can be preventable with more education and public awareness,” said Melody Seiger, chapter chair of the AFSP Mid-Missouri Chapter who lost her mother to suicide. “It is imperative that we pass this legislation immediately – our children, local community and school educators need our help. We have a responsibility to make suicide prevention a priority – the future of our state depends on it.”
Sponsored by Sen. Jill Schupp and Rep. Jeanie Lauer, SB 646/HB 1546, Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention in Schools would, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, allow, any licensed educator to annually complete up to two hours of training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention as part of the professional development hours required for State Board of Education certification. Rep. Randy Dunn sponsored HB 1656, the Jason Flatt Act that if passed, would require all public school teachers to complete annual training in suicide awareness and prevention, beginning in school year 2017-2018.
Since both of these programs are targeted at schools in the lower grades, SB 627, the Higher Education Suicide Prevention Policies targets public colleges and universities. If passed, SB 627 would require each public institution of higher education to develop and implement a policy to advise students and staff on available suicide prevention programs and resources, both on and off campus, including crisis intervention and hotline services, local mental health and counseling services, multimedia apps, and student educational, outreach, and postvention plans. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed would also require public institutions of higher education to provide all incoming students with information on depression and suicide prevention resources.
Advocates from across the state of Missouri are joining the conversation on February 24th to urge the passage of this important legislation, including: AFSP Eastern Missouri chapter, AFSP Greater Mid-Missouri chapter, and the AFSP Greater Kansas chapter. AFSP thanks all the sponsors and co-sponsors of the above mentioned bills under consideration, and especially thanks Sen. Jill Schupp for her support and leadership on this issue in 2015 and 2016.
Over twice as many people in Missouri die by suicide than by homicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24 in Missouri and for adults ages 25-34. On average, one person dies by suicide every 8.5 hours in Missouri.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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