Within the last 45 years, suicide rates have increased by 60%. It is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44. From these numbers, mental illnesses account for 95% of those deaths. Suicide is a highly stigmatized issue, and this keeps many schools and communities from addressing the issue head on. In order to allow these false perceptions and stigmas to be eliminated, these topics must be discussed with our youth. We must educate our teachers, who spend an incredible amount of time with our children, and make school environments more open to these discussions. If it is not our job to recognize and prevent suicide, then whose is it?  

What does the bill say?

We are advocating for a bill to be passed in New York State that would make 2+ hours of suicide prevention training mandatory for all educators of 7th through 12th grade students. This program would come at no cost to districts. Schools will be covered under a no liability clause, which would prevent individual schools and districts from being targeted in lawsuits. 

Legislative Intent:

It is the intent of the legislature that training under this Act be provided without the need for appropriation of additional state funding for that purpose. 

Mandatory Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training Immunity:

  • A school district, regional educational attendance area, and the department shall annually provide youth suicide awareness and prevention training approved by the commissioner to each teacher, administrator, counselor, and specialist who is employed by the district, regional educational attendance area, or department to provide services to students in grades seven through 12 in a public school in the state at no cost to the teacher, administrator, counselor, or specialist. 
  • The commissioner shall approve youth suicide awareness and prevention training provided under this section if the training is not less than two hours each year, meets standards for professional continuing education credit in the state, and is periodically reviewed by a qualified person or committee for consistency with generally accepted principles of youth suicide awareness and prevention. The training may be offered through videoconferencing or an individual program of study of designated materials. 
  • A person may not bring a civil action for damages against the state or a school district, or an officer, agent, or employee of the state or a school district for a death, personal injury, or property damage that results from an act or omission in performing or failing to perform activities or duties authorized under this section. This subsection does not apply to a civil action for damages as a result of intentional misconduct with complete disregard for the safety and property of others. 
  • The training provided or the failure to provide training under this section may not be construed to impose a specific duty of care on any person.

This bill would encourage open conversation, help to eliminate negative stigma, and give educators the tools they need to be able to recognize warning signs, and potentially save lives.