New Law Aims To Train Suicide Awareness, Prevention At Schools - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

New Law Aims To Train Suicide Awareness, Prevention At Schools

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ARDMORE, OK -- The Oklahoma State Health Department says the state's suicide rate has risen 20 percent from 2004 to 2010.      

A measure recently signed by Governor Mary Fallin would authorize suicide prevention training in schools to try and curb the increase.

Ardmore Public Schools Superintendent Sonny Bates knows first hand the devastating effect a suicide has on a school district and community.

"I have seen what suicides can do," said Bates. "It actually not only slows the school down but it slows academic growth as well."

The state health department says 111 people in Oklahoma from ages 10 to 24 died by their own hands in 2012.

That's up from 91 from the year before.

"Suicides are a concern for every school administrator and it's a problem everywhere," said Kim Holland, Ardmore High School principal.

Ardmore school officials say they have continuous training and emergency plans in place to prevent suicides and believe House Bill 1623 will help even more.

The newly signed law is designed to provide training for teachers to recognize the danger signals and prevent suicide in grades 7 through 12.

Administrators at Ardmore Public Schools say a key component to the new piece of legislation is the inclusion of students in that training as well.

"Because a lot of times kids can identify these signs whether it's bullying or potential suicide quicker than the adults can," said Holland.

"Having kids on board is very vital," said Bates.

State Representative Kay Floyd, who authored the bill, says school districts will be offered to choose from a list of suicide awareness and prevention training programs before the start of next school year.

"The programs have already been developed by the Department of Mental Health," said Floyd. "It's a district by district call."

Bates says Ardmore schools will consider adopting a program over the summer.

Representative Floyd says Oklahoma has the 13th highest suicide rate per capita in the nation.
    
By comparison Texas ranks 41st.