WASHINGTON, April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the District of Columbia for those aged 15-24. To help stem this leading cause of death from affecting more Washington, D.C. residents, on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 Mayor Bowser signed into law the Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Amendment Act of 2016. Sponsored by Councilmember David Grosso (At-Large), this bill was passed unanimously by the DC Council on April 5, 2016. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation's largest suicide prevention organization, along with The Trevor Project, the DC Center for the LGBT Community, and the National Association of School Psychologists wish to thank the DC Council for passing this important legislation and Mayor Bowser for signing it into law.
"Under current DC law, it is mandatory for teachers and school administrators to identify students who have unmet behavioral health needs and refer them to appropriate services. With this new law, now they will also have the tools to recognize the warning signs and risk factors for suicide and implement best practices for suicide prevention, suicide intervention, and suicide postvention," explained John Madigan, AFSP vice president of public policy. "This is especially important in protecting our nation's most important resource— our children."
"The Trevor Project is proud to have played a key role in helping this bill pass, which will help not only LGBTQ youth, but also foster and homeless youth, as well as those living with mental illness, substance use disorders, self-harming behaviors, and those bereaved by suicide," Abbe Land, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project says.
"It was great to be part of building this coalition and working with amazing individuals and organizations over the course of the last year to ensure that young people in our schools have teachers, administrators, and staff that know how to prevent suicide by giving students the supports they deserve. As an activist this is an exciting moment that shows that collaboration, hard work, and determination can have real outcomes that impact the lives of so many in our community," said Chris Obermeyer, DC resident and individual activist.
"This bill is a testament to data- driven and psychologically informed practices working successfully in schools. As advocates, we worked hard and in unison to prevent suicidality in tandem with improving school climate. The council was behind us the whole time and we are grateful for that," said Dr. Eddy Ameen, Youth Working Group co-chair at The DC Center for the LGBT Community.
"This law represents a major step forward in the effort to reduce suicide risk among our students, particularly our most vulnerable populations," states Todd Savage, President of the National Association of School Psychologists. "The specificity and comprehensive nature of the guidance required, coupled with mandated training for all school staff every two years, will significantly strengthen DC Public School's ability to provide effective suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention strategies."
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, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. 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.
SOURCE American Foundation for Suicide Prevention