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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: June 18, 2013 03:26 PM
From: Representative Frank Farina
To: All House members
Subject: Suicide Prevention and Awareness Education
I am preparing to introduce legislation which will encourage all school districts, charter schools, intermediate units and area vocational-technical schools to adopt policies dealing with the prevention of youth suicide in grades 6 - 12.

Suicide plagues children, families and communities every day. Most signs of suicide are often overlooked and can be avoided if the proper actions are taken and if the signs of suicide are noticed and tended to in a timely manner. Some schools already have in place a policy relating to suicide prevention, but a policy that is weak or inconsistent or lacks the input of mental health professionals may fail to help troubled students.

My proposal will strengthen suicide prevention techniques and resources in public school entities throughout the Commonwealth by:
  • Encouraging each public school entity to require its faculty members (teachers, administrators, nurses, etc.) to complete four hours of professional development and suicide awareness every five years.
  • Ensuring that the Department of Education (PDE) provides each public school entity with needed resources (at no cost to the public school entity), such as online courses and model policies regarding suicide prevention, counseling and awareness, including resources that are already publicly available.
According to the House Education Committee’s recent hearing on suicide prevention, last year nearly 86 percent of all youth suicides could have been avoided if the obvious signals were not ignored or misinterpreted. Of that 86 percent, 10 percent of the youths who had committed suicide had attempted suicide on more than one prior occasion. The current increase in youth suicide is most likely affected by the lack of knowledge and resources available to those who need them.

My legislation will assist in preventing youth suicide across the Commonwealth, leading to a healthier and safer learning environment and a much brighter future for our students. Thank you for your consideration of this proposed legislation.

Introduced as HB1559