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This week from Charleston Del. Stephen Skinner One bill I sponsored that became law this year was called “Jamie’s Law.” HB 2535 was the work of the Select Committee on Families and Children and focuses on suicide prevention and awareness training. Over

April 20, 2015
Del. Stephen Skinner , Shepherdstown Chronicle

This week from Charleston

Del. Stephen Skinner

One bill I sponsored that became law this year was called "Jamie's Law." HB 2535 was the work of the Select Committee on Families and Children and focuses on suicide prevention and awareness training. Over the next year during its implementation, it will require public middle and high school administrators to share and provide opportunities to discuss suicide prevention awareness information to all middle and high school students. It also requires that each public and private higher education institution to develop a policy to advise students and staff on suicide prevention programs available. Another bill I sponsored, HB 2708, which would require professionals who provide mental health-related services, including psychologists, licensed school psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and clinical social workers who begin graduate study to receive training in suicide assessment, treatment and management prior to being licensed. It would also have required ongoing education. Although 2708 did not move this year, I hope to push for it next year.

I have reason to believe that we can continue the work we did this year for suicide prevention. The floor debate on HB 2535 was one of the high points of the session because it really was one of the moments where all partisanship was set aside. Many of the members, including me, spoke on the floor about our experiences of dealing with friends or family members who had committed suicide. The bill passed the House 97-0. Suicide knows no socioeconomic, racial, or geographic boundaries and that was apparent in the result. After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death.

Although the highest suicide rate by age is among people from 45 to 64, the suicide rate for kids who have been bullied is disproportionally high. One out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year. Bullied victims are 7 to 9 percent more likely to consider suicide according to a study by Yale University. Amongst LGBT youth, suicide is disproportionately large. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, but gay youth are four times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers. Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one-quarter report having made a suicide attempt.

This year, the legislature demonstrated that we can openly discuss and act on suicide prevention. Targeting middle and high schools, along with colleges and universities, is the right way to begin a public policy approach in West Virginia, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Del. Stephen Skinner

One bill I sponsored that became law this year was called "Jamie's Law." HB 2535 was the work of the Select Committee on Families and Children and focuses on suicide prevention and awareness training. Over the next year during its implementation, it will require public middle and high school administrators to share and provide opportunities to discuss suicide prevention awareness information to all middle and high school students. It also requires that each public and private higher education institution to develop a policy to advise students and staff on suicide prevention programs available. Another bill I sponsored, HB 2708, which would require professionals who provide mental health-related services, including psychologists, licensed school psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and clinical social workers who begin graduate study to receive training in suicide assessment, treatment and management prior to being licensed. It would also have required ongoing education. Although 2708 did not move this year, I hope to push for it next year.

I have reason to believe that we can continue the work we did this year for suicide prevention. The floor debate on HB 2535 was one of the high points of the session because it really was one of the moments where all partisanship was set aside. Many of the members, including me, spoke on the floor about our experiences of dealing with friends or family members who had committed suicide. The bill passed the House 97-0. Suicide knows no socioeconomic, racial, or geographic boundaries and that was apparent in the result. After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death.

Although the highest suicide rate by age is among people from 45 to 64, the suicide rate for kids who have been bullied is disproportionally high. One out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year. Bullied victims are 7 to 9 percent more likely to consider suicide according to a study by Yale University. Amongst LGBT youth, suicide is disproportionately large. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, but gay youth are four times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers. Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one-quarter report having made a suicide attempt.

This year, the legislature demonstrated that we can openly discuss and act on suicide prevention. Targeting middle and high schools, along with colleges and universities, is the right way to begin a public policy approach in West Virginia, and I am proud to be a part of it.

 
 
 

 

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