Ohio House of Representatives Passes Bill Requiring School Districts to Address Youth Suicide
If signed into law, the measure would require districts to establish a threat-assessment team and teach students about violence prevention and identifying depression.
- By Haley Samsel
- October 11, 2019
In an effort to combat youth suicides, the Ohio House of Representatives voted last week to pass a bill that would require school districts to assist students in need of support.
If the measure is signed into law, districts would have to establish a threat-assessment team and contract with an anonymous reporting system that operates around the clock. Students, parents and staff would be able to send in safety tips and report the data to state officials, who already operate a free tip-line service available to all districts.
Researchers have found that the mental health of teens and young adults has declined dramatically over the past decade. Rates of depression among kids ages 14 to 17 increased by more than 60 percent between 2009 and 2017, according to one study published earlier this year.
That increase has been felt in Ohio, where youth suicide rates have hit an 18-year high, according to The Springfield News-Sun. Under the new law, school districts would be required to train employees and teach students in middle and high school about violence prevention and identifying the signs of depression, self-harm and suicide.
“Our kids are coming to school with more trauma from their home,” Helke Elementary Principal Brian Tregoning told the Dayton Daily News. “There’s been a big push to help support these kids.”
Schools across the state have already been adopting their own programs to address suicidal thoughts among students. The most common, according to the Sun-News, is Hope Squad, which encourages students to look out for signs of depression among classmates and start conversations with peers about seeking help.
The state senate will still have to consider the law before it heads to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk. In August, DeWine created the Ohio School Safety Center, a department that will work to develop more school security resources and policies for districts.