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Suicide Education & Prevention Programs

February 23, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Ramon Martinez III

Executive Summary 

Between 2020-2021, 38 states enacted some form of legislation aimed at addressing suicide in the U.S. Suicide risk factors can include trauma, violence, abuse, familial mental health issues or substance abuse, as well as general mental health disorders. School-based education and awareness programs may play a role in identifying and addressing student mental health needs and suicide risks. Three bills,  HB 2136, HB 2238, SB 1142, have been introduced in the Missouri General Assembly for the 2022 legislative session to address suicide risks by making suicide training available for educators, as well as by providing crisis prevention contact information and additional resources on student identification cards. 

Highlights 

  • Suicide rates have risen since 2000, with more than half of states reporting a 30% increase in the overall number of suicides.
  • Children in high-risk categories for suicide include rural, low-income, racial minority, and LGBTQ+ populations; males across all categories also commit suicide at higher rates than females.
    • More than half of people who die by suicide had no known mental health condition at the time of death.
  • State-level legislative approaches to suicide prevention are diverse, and can include strategic planning of mental health services; direct funding for school-based services, mental health education, training, and resources; and changes in school mental health policies.

Limitations 

  • While many methods indicate some level of effectiveness at preventing suicides, research has not determined that any single approach is optimal.
  • More research is needed on both individual- and the wide variety of community-level approaches, including identifying precise roles for school staff and social workers.
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