Largest Suicide Prevention Organization Applauds Passage of Suicide Prevention Bill

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

Annapolis, MD (May 13, 2015) – On Tuesday, May 12, 2015 members of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention attended a bill signing for Lauryn’s Law – Maryland House Bill 947. Named after Lauryn Santiago, a 15-year-old Prince George’s County teen who took her own life, this law strengthens the education requirements for suicide prevention training for certified school counselors. Lauryn’s mother, an AFSP local volunteer attended the signing.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention released this statement:

“We thank Governor Hogan for signing this important piece of legislation into law. Maryland will now become the 24th state across the U.S. to require suicide prevention training for certain school personnel.

We would also like to thank the lead sponsors, Delegate Peña-Melnyk andSenator Catherine Pugh, and the other bill sponsors for their leadership and continued support.

While some suicides occur without any outward warning, most young people who are suicidal do give warning signs. With school counselors having such a direct connection with our young people, they are in a prime position to recognize the signs of suicide and to support students at risk and their families in seeking help. By training our counselors to recognize these signs and to have an action plan in place, young lives can ultimately be saved.

Under the new law, certified school counselors will have until July 1, 2016 to have obtained the knowledge and skills required to understand and respond to the social, emotional, and personal development of students. This includes recognizing indicators of mental illness and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse, and identifying professional resources to help students in crisis.

The new law will go into effect July 1, 2015. We hope someday to see all of our school personnel have similar requirements. This is a great step in the right direction and we’re proud that our elected officials are taking this public health issue seriously by passing and signing this bill into law.”

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