RALEIGH, N.C., April 3, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In 2015, the last year of data we have on North Carolina violent deaths, 1,406 citizens died by suicide compared to 593 by homicide. That is almost three times more lives lost to suicide than to homicide. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from the North Carolina chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting the state capitol on Tuesday, April 4th to encourage their legislative leaders to support Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention, H 285 and S 316.
"We need to be proactive instead of reactive about suicide prevention programs in our schools. Passing the Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention legislation will get us a step closer to saving our children," said Meredith Swafford, Co-Chair of the AFSP NC Chapter and suicide prevention advocate. "I became an advocate for suicide prevention after the loss of my husband Doug in 2005. I realized then how much I didn't know about suicide and mental illness so I educated myself. As the founding chair and current co-chair of the AFSP NC chapter, I get calls and emails far too often from schools, friends and acquaintances about the loss of yet another child or young adult to suicide. I personally know of the loss of one young adult and four losses to suicide of children between the ages of 10-14 in just the last three weeks in our state. This is four too many."
Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention, H 285 and S 316
If passed, this legislation would amend Article 25A of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes to include youth suicide awareness and prevention training and risk referral protocols for school personnel for local schools. School personnel interact with children and teens on a daily basis and are therefore in a prime position to recognize the signs of suicide risk and make the appropriate referrals for help. Educators must receive regular training in youth suicide awareness and prevention to ensure they have the necessary skills and confidence to intervene with youth at risk for suicide. Similar to refreshers in CPR, repeat trainings in suicide prevention are essential.
The training program would:
- Be provided to school personnel who work directly with students in grades 6-12
- Consist of two hours of evidence-based instruction on suicide awareness, identification of risk facts and warning signs, and information on referral to suicide prevention resources and support
- Be completed within 12 months of employment and every five years thereafter
The training and risk referral protocols include:
- A plan to provide training for student support personnel (administrators, school nurses, counselors, social workers and psychologists)
- A safety plan for the school in the event of a student being at risk of suicide or the suicide death of a student
- Designation of a school suicide prevention responder
- Protocol for school-parent communication
- Postvention resources (for after a suicide)
This is the first time AFSP is hosting a State Capitol Day in North Carolina. The advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in spring 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators.
Suicide in North Carolina
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in North Carolina. It is the third leading cause of death in children between the ages of 10-14. It is the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults between the ages of 14-24.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that's smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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SOURCE American Foundation for Suicide Prevention