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Suicide Prevention Act passes in Montana legislature, awaits governor's signature

GALLATIN COUNTY

Suicide Prevention Act passes in Montana legislature, awaits governor's signature

BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training Act will require teachers to undergo suicide prevention training every five years. House Bill 374 was inspired by the work of the Jason Foundation, a suicide education and awareness nonprofit.

The legislation requires teachers to attend two hours of suicide prevention training every five years.

Jason Foundation President Clark Flatt described the nonprofit's training class.

Flatt said, "A very professional way of being able to present warning signs and elevated risk factors. Not only learn those things but also learn what resources were available and learn who a person can turn to for help."

The classes include suicide statistics, risk factors and warning signs.

Warning signs include talking about suicide, making statements about feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless, taking unnecessary risks or exhibiting self-destructive behavior, a loss of interest in the things one cares about, and giving away prized possessions.

Flatt said the signs can be less obvious, too.

"You've probably heard a young person before say, 'Nobody would miss me if I wasn't here,' 'I don't really matter,' 'If I wasn't here, life wouldn't change for anyone else,' 'I'm not important,' all of those could be considered a type of suicide threat," says Flatt.

According to a 2014 study by the Center for Disease Control, Montana has the third highest suicide rates in the country.

The next step is implementing the program within health and wellness curriculum at schools.

"It's important that we train those young people about how to respond and how to recognize if a friend might be struggling with some thoughts of suicide and know how to get help for that friend," says Flatt.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youths ages 10 to 24 in the United States.

The bill now heads to Gov. Steve Bullock's desk for a signature.


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