The Ohio House of Representatives today passed legislation that focuses on training teachers and certain school staff members in youth suicide awareness and prevention.

Designated the “Jason Flatt Act, Ohio, in honor of Joseph Anielski,” House Bill 543 requires public schools, as well as community (charter) schools and science, technology, engineering and math schools to train teachers and staff in areas regarding suicide prevention.

“Experiencing a child commit suicide is one of the most painful things a family can go through,” Speaker Batchelder said. “It is important that people know the warning signs and be ready to help someone going through a difficult time in life. This bill helps raise suicide awareness and prevention and will hopefully save lives in the future.”

Under the bill, each school board and other school governing authority would be required to either adopt or adapt to the standards developed by the Ohio Department of Education or develop its own suicide awareness standards in consultation with public or private agencies or persons involved in youth suicide prevention programs.

In its 2011 Youth Risk Behavioral Report for Ohio, the Center for Disease Control reported that one in seven Ohio students said they had “seriously considered suicide” in the past 12 months. Slightly more than one in seven had actually “made a plan to commit suicide” in that time. Additionally, one in 11 Ohio students reported “attempting suicide one or more times in the past 12 months,” nearly 50 percent higher than the national average.

If signed into law, Ohio would become the 11th state in the nation to pass the Jason Flatt Act. Founded in 1997, The Jason Foundation, Inc. is a national non-profit organization with 87 Regional Affiliate Offices in 34 states. Last year, the foundation trained more than 150,000 educators in youth suicide awareness and prevention.

HB 543 passed the House unanimously and will now be sent to the Senate for further consideration.


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