What Are States Doing to Help Prevent Suicide?

SEP. 22, 2015

By Dania Douglas

Tragically, tens of thousands of Americans lose their lives to suicide every year, the statistics are alarming. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. More young adults aged 15-24 die by suicide than anything else with the exception of accidents. Every single day, the lives of 18 to 22 veterans are lost. These statistics are incredibly disheartening when thinking of the millions of families, friends and colleagues who are left to mourn these losses.  Yet, research tells us that with appropriate training, education and outreach, suicide can be prevented. 

Nearly 90% of people who die by suicide have an underlying mental health condition. Yet, the American Association of Suicidology reports that many mental health professionals do not have appropriate training in suicide prevention. Since most mental health professionals will encounter a person who is suicidal at some point during their careers, adequate education in suicide prevention is critical.

Recognizing this, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Utah passed legislation in 2015 that mandates suicide awareness and prevention education for mental health professionals. For example, SB 33, enacted in New Hampshire, requires mental health practitioners receive at least three hours of continuing education training. The training includes suicide prevention, intervention or postvention as part of the license renewal process that occurs every two years.   

Teachers and other school personnel also play an important part in young adult suicide prevention. Eight states (Georgia, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia) enacted legislation during the 2015 term designed to create training and resources for school staff. In North Dakota, SB 2209 requires school districts to provide annual suicide prevention training to all middle school and high school instructional staff, teachers and administrators. Similarly, SB 1458 in Minnesota expands funding for grants that provide evidence-based suicide prevention training to school staff and other professionals who work with young people. 

Far too many lives are lost each year to suicide. Suicide prevention training is a concrete way to prevent deaths and help direct people to treatment and recovery.  More states will hopefully follow the examples that these states have made in the future. But don’t wait for tomorrow to take action.


OCT, 20, 2015 07:24:09 PM
We have to get school staff trained and to get administrations to worry less about their liability and more about creating a stigma-free environment for students with mental health issues!

OCT, 05, 2015 02:18:05 PM
Nancy Christensen
I support what you are doing. I lost one of my precious children to suicide.

OCT, 05, 2015 12:33:46 PM
Pamela Bates
I think not only should the Mental Health professionals be trained. But, also their providers and the Community in general. There are a lot of homeless that are or should be diagnosed with a MH disorder and the general public are not sure what to do or say to someone who may be very ill. We all need to know what to do in an emergency to save lives.

OCT, 02, 2015 04:09:46 PM
Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention
Glad to see this progress in 2015. Please note that Washington state led the way in many regards: In 2012 required suicide assessment, management and treatment training for mental health and other professionals; in 2014 required suicide prevention training for all medical care providers. In 2013, expanded capacity of school districts to recognize and respond to youth at-risk for suicide; 2015 created a task force on mental health and suicide prevention in higher education.
For details on 2012-14 sessions, see http://www.intheforefront.org/policy/past ; on 2015 see http://www.intheforefront.org/policy/2015.
Sue Lockett John
Communications Coordinator
Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention

OCT, 01, 2015 06:44:07 PM
I would like more information on the process and advocacy to implement this in Kansas

OCT, 01, 2015 11:21:54 AM
Michael Stein
Dania: You need to look at what Colorado is doing. We have established a statewide Crisis hotline manned by mental health professionals, created walk in centers around the states, the Governor has created a Suicide Prevention Commission and NAMI is conducting programs in high schools to raise awareness of mental health/suicide. We are trying to create change.

OCT, 01, 2015 08:24:38 AM
Stephanie Rosen
At NAMI Montgomery County Maryland we have implemented the evidence based NREPP program Sources of Strength in 8 schools. I was disappointed to read that all of the above programs are about training gatekeepers (teachers, adults). In order to have true prevention kids/teens NEED to be part of the solution. Research shows that untrained teens know when one of their peers are suffering BEFORE a trained adult. For true prevention we need to increase help seeking behavior, connectedness between adults and youth, and end codes of silence.
Sources of Strength is being implemented at State (Idaho, Georgia, etc), County (Colorado, California, New Jersey, New York, etc), and local levels (Alaska, Maryland, etc). Over 700 schools have this program and it is making huge strides in true suicide prevention by teaching resilience, how to ask for help, and using teen ideas and voices!
Learn more at www.sourcesofstrength.org or email me, Stephanie Rosen, the Executive Director of NAMI Montgomery County (MD). I hope to present our findings at NAMI Convention 2016 in Denver!
Stephanie Rosen
Executive Director
NAMI Montgomery County (MD)

SEP, 30, 2015 09:06:15 PM
Mommy of Five
I wish there was more awareness in the schools, but a lot of times, kids, especially in high school don't tell anyone how they are feeling, or are depressed by a peers words or actions. Sadly, my high school daughter informed me that a freshman in her school committed suicide just last night. It's heartbreaking.

SEP, 30, 2015 08:16:33 PM
I would like more information, or as much as possible, Thank you

SEP, 30, 2015 06:36:17 PM
Doctors need to stop telling people they are diabetic when they aren't even close to it. Two of my doctor's had me wanting to commit suicide by telling me this. I have a severe phobia of needles and this would send me right home to blow my brains out. (Doctors are SUCH Drama Queens these days, makes me sick. I can see why so many people commit suicide, they drive them to it.)

SEP, 24, 2015 04:15:13 PM
Trena Reynolds
I support your mission.

SEP, 23, 2015 05:06:58 PM
Please i would like more information about this.. Thank you.

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