School employees to receive suicide prevention training

11 years ago

School employees

to receive suicide prevention training

By Scott Mitchell Johnson
Staff Writer

    AUGUSTA — Public school employees will receive suicide awareness and prevention training thanks to a law that went into effect Oct. 9.

    “Suicide among our young people has been on the rise and is one of the leading causes of death in Maine,” said Rep. Robert Saucier (D-Presque Isle), a co-sponsor of the bill. “If we can provide suicide prevention awareness and intervention training in schools, then we can work to prevent our teens from making tragic life-ending decisions.”
    The new law requires Maine public school personnel to receive training in suicide awareness. The size of the school district would determine the number of employees who also undergo more advanced prevention training.
    Public school employees will be prepared to identify early signs of depression and suicide, and take the appropriate steps to prevent a tragedy.
    SAD 20 Superintendent Marc Gendron said “100 percent of the entire staff at SAD 20” will receive the appropriate training.
    “This professional development will include secretaries, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc.,” he said. “In addition, a minimum of two staff members in each building will complete more extensive ‘Prevention Gatekeeper’ training so they can serve as a specialized resource within our schools.
    “We need to continue to be consistent with training and awareness because I cannot think of another issue that causes greater suffering to individuals, families and communities,” said Gendron. “The emotional toll remains long after the event, and anything we can do prevent this type of tragedy is vitally important.”
    Suicide is the second-leading cause of death of Mainers 24 and younger, according to the Maine Suicide Prevention Program, an initiative of several state agencies. Survey data from the state Center for Disease Control reveals that nearly 13 percent of high school seniors in Maine seriously considered suicide, more than 9 percent planned their suicide and almost 8 percent attempted suicide.
    The measure won unanimous support in the Maine House and Senate last session and was ceremonially signed by the governor in May.