Contact: Catherine English (firstname.lastname@example.org 919.218.3730)
RALEIGH, NC (June 9, 2020) – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, applauds the North Carolina legislature and Governor Cooper for passing and signing Senate Bill 476 into law. This landmark legislation will ensure employees throughout the North Carolina school system are trained to recognize and respond when a young person indicates they are at risk of hurting themselves or may be struggling with other mental health issues.
In 2018, North Carolina lost 84 young people ages 10-19 to suicide, making it the 2nd leading cause of death for that age group.
“Our educators and school staff need this training, now more than ever,” said AFSP NC Chapter Board Co-Chair, Tiffany Hall, MSW, LCSW. “Several COVID-19 related issues, including social disconnection, anxiety, depression, loss, and grief, have known ways of worsening mental health and/or suicide risk for young people and adults alike. SB 476 will help create an environment within our schools where it is okay to have a real conversation about mental health and suicide.”
Sponsored by Senators Rick Horner, Jerry Tillman, and Deanna Ballard, and shepherded in the House of Representatives by Representative Craig Horn, SB 476 requires the NC State Board of Education to adopt a school-based mental health policy that includes a model mental health training program and suicide risk referral protocol for K-12 schools. Schools will be required to adopt a plan for promoting student mental health and well-being that includes, at a minimum, the models developed by the Board. Related mental health training will also be required annually for school employees.
Youth suicide can be prevented through early detection of students who may be in crisis or struggling with their mental health and connecting those students to resources and treatment services.
AFSP North Carolina Chapter advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates working with public officials across the United States in 2020 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to legislators and their staff. AFSP-NC thanks our partners at National Alliance on Mental Illness, North Carolina and Mental Health America of Central Carolinas for their continued advocacy and support of SB 476 over several legislative sessions. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/advocacy/.
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, with a Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia 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.