Suicide prevention a topic of importance at the Capitol

February 19, 2019 09:39 PM

Suicide is the number one killer of youth between the ages of 10 and 17, according to state lawmakers who want every teacher in Minnesota trained for suicide prevention.

Some online training is now being proposed to help. It would be led by a nationally recognized provider of, what is considered, evidence-based strategies.

The training would help teachers spot students in trouble. Those who spoke during a public hearing at the State Capitol Tuesday call this a serious health crisis.

By having the training online, many districts across the state would have access to it at any time. That includes rural areas, which those testifying at the hearing say is of "critical need."

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Sue Abderholden of the National Alliance on Mental Health, spoke at the hearing urging that lawmakers pass the legislation. She says the goal is to make sure teachers and other staff members know what to look for and listen to during their daily interactions with students.

That could happen in classrooms, cafeteria or extracurricular activities. 

"We don't expect teachers to treat students but we want them to know the signs and symptoms and most importantly what to do if a student shares that they or a friend are suicidal," said Abderholden. 

Districts have access to this training for 2019, but the funding runs out after that. This legislation would appropriate $480,000 to the training in the fiscal year 2020 from the general fund. There is a similar bill being introduced in the Senate. 

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