Berman Champions Funding for Youth Suicide Prevention Training

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) is pleased to have secured $1.7 million to provide youth suicide prevention training for all school staff and students. Today Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1808, the education omnibus trailer bill, which appropriates this funding. 

“It is imperative that administrators, teachers, and students have the knowledge, tools, and resources to recognize the warning signs and respond to students who need help. Too many of our communities across California, including in the 24th Assembly District, have been affected by youth suicides. This funding is a critical step in preventing these tragedies by identifying the best online youth suicide prevention training and making it available to schools for free,” said Berman.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that suicide among youth is on the rise and is now the second leading cause of death among those 10 to 24 years of age. In addition, the suicide rate for middle school students is at an all-time high. According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among students aged 10 to 14, and more die by suicide than as a result of motor vehicle accidents.

“Too many of our LGBTQ youth are lost each year to suicide,” said Equality California Legislative Manager Jo Michael. “We’re grateful to Assemblymember Berman for leading this effort, and to Governor Brown and the Legislature for making this critical investment and giving our teachers, administrators and school staff the training they need to save lives.”

As youth spend a significant amount of their lives in school, the personnel who interact with them on a daily basis are in a prime position to recognize the warning signs of suicide and make the appropriate referrals for help. In a national survey conducted by the Jason Foundation, students reported that the number one person they would turn to for helping a friend who might be suicidal was a teacher. However, research on school staff preparedness has identified a lack of experience, training, and confidence to appropriately address mental health issues and suicide ideation among students.

“California is leading by example in suicide prevention training by investing $1.7 million to save the lives of youth across the state,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide as their peers. Educators and school staff trained in suicide prevention can save countless lives, regardless of the identity of the student.”

Specifically, the funding would be given as a grant to acquire and disseminate online training in suicide awareness and prevention to all public schools serving students in grades 7 to 12. The training program is required to be evidence-based; be consistent with the model pupil suicide prevention policy developed by the California Department of Education; address the needs of high-risk groups, such as LGBTQ youth; track aggregate, statewide usage; and assess knowledge before and after training is provided in order to measure training outcomes.

Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024