TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher and Assemblymen Bob Morgan and Mike Panter which would require the State Board of Education to include two hours of instruction in suicide prevention as part of the professional development requirement for teaching staff was unanimously approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“Suicide is the third leading killer of teens, but it shouldn’t be the case,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “Often, there are warning signs that should raise a red flag to trained individuals, but the problem is that teachers, who spend a lot of time with students in the course of a week, do not have the proper tools to identify these warning signs. This training will allow teachers to intervene early, and ultimately, it will save lives.”
“I would like to add that, without the leadership of Assemblyman Morgan, who has brought a healthcare professional’s mind-set to the problem, we wouldn’t be this far along with this lifesaving measure,” said Senator Karcher.
The bill, S-2622, would require the State Board of Education, in consultation with the New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Board, to require each public school teaching staff member to complete at least two hours of instruction in suicide prevention as part of the professional development requirement established by the Board. Under the bill, the suicide prevention instruction must be provided by a licensed health care professional with training and experience in mental health issues.
“By giving teachers access to the mental health expertise of trained healthcare professionals, we would be able to get kids the help they need before it’s too late,” said Senator Karcher. “Under this bill, teachers will be given the necessary skills to identify suicidal tendencies, and steer children and their parents towards the proper treatment options. It will build partnerships in the education and healthcare field to ensure that our kids do not fall through the net, and that dangerous warning signs do not go unnoticed.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.