Suicide rates for our youth are astounding. Often, suicide is linked with bullying, which seems to be an epidemic in our schools across the county. Thankfully, there may be hope on the horizon. Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year school districts in Pennsylvania will be required to have suicide prevention policies established.
A bill was signed into law this past summer which ultimately gave Pennsylvania school districts a year and half to establish policies regarding suicide prevention. Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, each school entity:
- Shall adopt an age-appropriate youth suicide awareness and prevention policy;
- Shall include 4 hours of training in youth suicide awareness and prevention every 5 years for professional educators in grades 6-12; and
- May incorporate a youth suicide awareness and prevention curriculum into its existing instructional programs.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Education:
- Shall develop a model youth suicide awareness and prevention policy, in consultation with a youth suicide prevention organization;
- Shall develop a model youth suicide awareness and prevention curriculum and make it available to all school entities; and
- Shall compile, develop, and post on its publicly accessible internet website guidelines and materials for the training of educators, and resources and age-appropriate educational material.
This bill came to pass as a result of numerous task forces and groups who recognize that more needs to be done to address these tragic deaths, many of which could be prevented if these policies are put into place. These tragedies may also be prevented if school personnel are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, which can lead to suicide.
Learn more information about the new law.