Story last updated at 5/30/2012 - 12:57 pm
ANCHORAGE - Sen. Bettye Davis, D-Anchorage, is praising Gov. Sean Parnell for signing Senate Bill 137 http://bit.ly/z6kAF6, 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.
Clark Flatt established The Jason Foundation (www.jasonfoundation.com) 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 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 third leading cause of death nationwide for 10- to 24-year-olds," said 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."