St. Joe Channel: Suicide Prevention Bill Advances in Jeff City

A bill aimed at training educators to spot the signs of suicide has advanced in the Missouri Senate.

Senate Bill 646 passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.

The bill would allow elementary and secondary licensed educators to annually receive up to two hours of professional development credit for suicide education and prevention training.

It would also charge the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with formulating guidelines for training and development surrounding youth suicide prevention, and coordination with school districts to update model policies and practices aimed at countering this issue facing Missouri’s youth.

“This legislation would save lives. It equips our educators with the tools and resources they need to help identify at risk children and prevent another family from the unimaginable grief of losing a child to suicide,” said Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Couer. “I’m grateful to the committee for fast-tracking this legislation that prioritizes the lives of young Missourians.”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24.

It is the third highest cause of death among 10 to 14-year-olds, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, Missouri’s suicide rate has been higher than the national average for more than a decade, according to the Missouri Institute of Mental Health.

Missouri Western State University President Dr. Robert Vartabedian recently testified before the committee on Senate Bill 646.

Vartabedian created a chart called “A Model of Suicidal Communication” for Missouri Western staff and students after a student committed suicide on campus in 2013.

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