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In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, U.S. Representatives Zach Nunn (IA-03) and Mary Peltola (AK-At Large) today introduced bipartisan legislation to improve resources to prevent suicide in schools. The Prevent Youth Suicide Act will establish biennial training on suicide prevention and awareness for teachers and staff at educational institutions.

“Any life lost to suicide is one too many, especially when it involves a child,” said Rep. Nunn. “Families, classmates, and educators should never be left to deal with this kind of loss. We can do more to prevent suicides by properly training those who play a pivotal role in the development of young people, like teachers, faculty, and staff. This legislation will ensure educators have the skills needed to identify risk factors and prevent suicides.”

According to a 2021 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16,961 high school students nationwide felt sad or hopeless. 15,573 of those students attempted suicide. In Iowa, more than 1,300 students felt hopeless and 1,250 had attempted suicide.

“Youth in Alaska and across the country are struggling with mental health crises and a lack of resources in the place they often spend the most time—at school. We’re all aware of the tragic impacts this shortcoming has on our families and communities,” said Rep. Peltola. “Mental health services are essential health services and should be present and accessible in our schools. That’s why I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill which requires education agencies to create plans for suicide prevention, trauma-informed care, and other proven mental health interventions. This is an issue that should unite all of us, and I will continue to work for our youth to get the support they deserve.”

Teachers, faculty, and staff that interact regularly with students have an opportunity to influence the lives of young people. Proper training in suicide prevention and trauma-informed care can help schools create an environment that promotes positive behaviors and the success of all students.

The bipartisan Prevent Youth Suicide Act would require the U.S. Department of Education to integrate biennial, evidence-based training on suicide prevention for all licensed school personnel that interact with students in grades six through twelve. This training would teach educators to identify signs of distress and risk factors for suicide, as well as how to respond to those concerns.

Rep. Nunn introduced the Prevent Youth Suicide Act in Des Moines at the YSS Shelter in Des Moines, IA.  The text of the legislation is available here.

Author: Press Release


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