Teachers and other public school workers would be required to be trained on the signs that a youth may be at risk of suicide, under a bill that passed the Ohio House on Wednesday by a 82-0 vote.
Teachers, counselors, nurses, administrators and others would be required to attend the in-service training once every two years. Current law requires the training once every five years.
Educators also have mandatory training on child abuse prevention, drug abuse, violence, harassment, bullying and other matters.
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Bill sponsor state Rep. Marlene Anielski, R-Walnut Hills, said that the “youth silent epidemic” of suicide is one of the leading causes of death in children.
“Suicide is an important public health issue involving psychological, biological and societal factors that is preventable with treatable behavioral health care,” she said. She noted that suicide rates in the U.S. increased almost steadily from 1999 to 2017 and in Ohio it is the second leading cause of death for youths age 12 to 18.
More than twice as many Ohioans die by suicide than homicide, said Anielski, whose son, Joe, died by suicide.
An amendment to extend the training requirement to private schools was tabled on a 44-39 vote.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
In 2016 in Ohio, 1,706 people died by suicide, including 215 under age 25, according to Ohio Department of Health statistics. That is up nearly 35 percent over the 1,268 suicide deaths in Ohio in 2007.
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Warning signs of suicide include: visiting or calling people to say goodbye; researching means to carry out a suicide; talking or writing about suicide or death; sudden and extreme mood changes or behaviors; increased substance abuse; and excessive risk taking, according to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
The National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK.
People in crisis can text “4HOPE” to 741741 to be immediately connected with a trained, volunteer crisis counselor.