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Governor Signs Bill Requiring Suicide Prevention Training in Schools

Governor Parnell congratulates Celeste Hodge, Legislative Aide for bill sponsor Senator Bettye Davis after signing Senate Bill 137

Governor Parnell congratulates Celeste Hodge, Legislative Aide for bill sponsor Senator Bettye Davis after signing Senate Bill 137

Photo: Senator Bettye Davis

Senator Bettye Davis is praising Governor Sean Parnell for signing Senate Bill 137, the Jason Flatt Act.  SB137 requires mandatory youth suicide awareness and prevention training for certain teachers, administrators, counselors, and specialists employed in school districts across the state.  SB 137, sponsored by Senator Davis, requires at least two hours of training for school personnel who work with students in grades 7-12.

“Most young people contemplating suicide show clear warning signs prior to the attempt,” said Senator Davis, who is also Chair of the Senate’s Health and Social Services Committee.  “It is imperative that educators know how to recognize signs of at-risk youth and are prepared to intervene when they identify a problem.”

Governor Parnell congratulates Celeste Hodge, Legislative Aide for bill sponsor Senator Bettye Davis after signing Senate Bill 137

Clark Flatt established The Jason Foundation after his son, Jason Flatt, committed suicide in their Nashville home back in 1997.  The Jason Foundation is dedicated to the prevention of the "Silent Epidemic" of youth suicide through awareness programs to equip young people, educators, and parents with tools to help identify and assist at-risk youth. 

“Teachers are often on the front lines,” said Senator Davis.   “If they are aware of the warning signs, we can save young lives that might otherwise be tragically wasted. Our suicide rates are double the national average, and Native Alaskan males are three times the state average. This bill will give teachers the training they need to recognize the danger signs, and then take action.”

The Alaska Mental Health Board and Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse has partnered with the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, the Alaska Association of Student Governments, the University of Alaska, and the Jason Foundation to establish goals, training programs, and resources for teachers, coaches and staff in suicide prevention.

“Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death nationwide for 10 to 24-year-olds,” said Senator Davis.  “In Alaska, the problem is even worse with suicide ranking as the number one cause of death for Alaskans under the age of 50-years-old.   Our kids deserve a better chance at life, and this training is a critical step forward in that process.”

For more information, please contact Tom Obermeyer in Senator Bettye Davis’ office at (907) 269-0144.

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