Suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death for individuals 10-24 years old; coming in just after accidental deaths. Muskegon County has a unique group that reviews suicidal deaths in the county. Their report showed a 105% increase in the overall rate of suicides between 2014 and 2015. Among youth in Muskegon County, 19.8% of high schoolers and 21.5% of middle schoolers seriously considered suicide in the previous twelve months; 16.5% of high schoolers and 13.8% of middle schoolers made plans on how they would do it; and 9.7% of high schoolers and 8% of middle schoolers attempted suicide at least once.
Because school personnel understand normal behavior patterns and have prolonged contact with students, they have been identified as the forefront of preventing youth suicides. The current law in Michigan does not require training on the topic and only 9% of teachers are confident in their abilities to screen students. Through training, school personnel can learn the warning signs of suicide and how to effectively respond when they think a student is at risk. When Tennessee implemented state-mandated training over 42% of those trained identified at least one student at-risk of suicide and were able to intervene within six months following the training.
Passage of House Bill 4772 will require that school personnel complete suicide prevention training. The Bill will also provide funding to help schools with the cost related to this new compliance. By passing this Bill into law students lives will be saved.
House Bill 4772 was introduced in May 2017 and has been referred to the House Committee on Education Reform where it has been stalled for nearly a year. To help get this bill moving, contact Representative Tim Kelly, the Chair of the Committee. Urge him to put this bill on the committee’s agenda.
N-1198 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI, 48909
Elizabeth Sumerix, LLBSW. Twin Lake, MI