State Rep. Frank Farina, D-Lackawanna/Wayne, announced his bill aimed at reducing school-aged suicides was voted out of the Senate Education Committee this week.
"Teen suicide has become a tragic and all-too-common news story," Farina said. "Our neighbors in Luzerne County had four teens take their own lives in one week last September. We need to stop this."
House Bill 1559 would require all 6th- through 12th-grade teachers to receive four hours of Department of Education-approved suicide awareness and prevention training every five years.
The training would fulfill a part of the regular professional continuing education training requirements under the state’s School Code.
"Our teachers observe our children for up to eight hours a day, 180 days a year,” Farina said. “They are in a unique position to observe student moods, behavior and peer interactions. This bill will ensure our teachers receive the necessary training to observe potential suicidal behavior and, hopefully, prevent the pain and suffering for many families and friends of our youth by heading off potential suicides."
The Senate committee amended the original bill, which would require schools to establish a youth awareness and prevention policy within 90 days. The policy would need to include reporting procedures and methods of prevention, intervention and postvention.
The bill is expected to be voted on by the full Senate in the near future.
Should the bill become law, it would take effect upon the governor’s signature, which would require school districts to have training and educational information ready for the 2014-15 school year.