Suicide awareness and prevention training required by bill

Mike Seals - March 9, 2021 11:20 pm

 OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill requiring school districts to provide suicide awareness and prevention training to teachers and staff every two years won unanimous approval from the full Senate on Tuesday.  Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, is the principal author of Senate Bill 21.

Floyd said data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the problem of suicide in young people has only gotten worse in recent years.

“Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24.  One in six high school students surveyed said they’d seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months, and more than seven percent had actually attempted suicide,” Floyd said.  “The problem is not getting better.  It’s gotten worse. We know this program is working in other states.  It’s time to ensure all our schools are offering this training.”

Floyd said she first authored the bill as a member of the House of Representatives in 2014, but at that time it failed because it mandated the training.  She reintroduced the bill the following year making the program optional and the measure was ultimately signed into law, but she said she’d always intended to revisit the concept. Floyd said previous opposition to mandatory suicide and prevention training centered over concerns about cost and time, but said there would be no cost and very minimal time involved.

“The material is actually provided at no cost to the school districts by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  The most popular program is one called ‘At Risk,’ and it takes just one hour to complete, and it would only be once every two years,” Floyd said.  “But that one hour of training could give teachers the information they need to identify children who are at risk before it’s too late.”

The measure now advances to the House of Representatives for further consideration. Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, is the principal author of SB 21 in the House.


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