Advocates to Visit Jefferson City to Demand Resources for Schools to Help Fight Suicide

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              Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (February 22, 2017) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death and the second leading cause of death among college aged students. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from the Missouri chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting the state capitol today to convince their legislative leaders to support three bills that will strengthen mental health resources for schools: the Higher Education Suicide Prevention Polices (SB 52), the Jason Flatt Act of 2017 (HB 862), and the Jason Flatt Act – Relating to School Policy (HB 844).

“All over the country, Missouri is known as the Show Me state. I feel like we as Missourians need to step up and show the country that we can prevent suicide. I started advocating for my brother, Richard Lewis, who took his own life on November 12, 2003. But I now advocate for everyone who is struggling with suicide or mental health conditions,” said Becca Pamperl, resident of Columbia, Missouri and AFSP advocate. Ms. Pamperl is part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in spring 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators.

The Higher Education Suicide Prevention Polices – SB 52

This law 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 law would also make it a requirement for public institutions of higher education to provide all incoming students with information on depression and suicide prevention resources available to students, including on the websites run by the schools.

The Jason Flatt Act of 2017 – HB 862

If passed, the Jason Flatt Act of 2017 would make it a requirement that by July 1, 2018, each school board would have to adopt a policy for youth suicide awareness and prevention, including how the district will provide for the training and education of its district employees. Also, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would have to develop a model policy that districts could choose to adopt.

The Jason Flatt Act – Relating to School Policy – HB 844

If enacted, HB844 would make it a requirement that all districts offer and include at least two hours of in-service training for all practicing teachers in suicide prevention. This training would count as two contact hours of professional development under the existing law. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary education will also develop guidelines for training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention.

Suicide in Missouri

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in Missouri. For people aged 10-24 in Utah, it is the third leading cause of death. For those aged 25-34, it is the second leading cause of death. On average one person dies by suicide every 8 hours in the state.

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, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. 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.