CHICAGO – June 26, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that will require school social workers for grades seven through 12 to undergo suicide prevention training. The new law will help school officials identify the warning signs of suicidal behavior in young adults and help prevent suicides.
“We must do everything we can to protect our youngest citizens,” said Governor Quinn. “This new law will help save young lives by making sure schools are better-equipped to monitor suicidal behavior and know when and how to intervene.”
In response to a recent national surge of suicides among young people, House Bill 4672 expands the list of school personnel required to receive training in recognizing suicidal behavior and intervention techniques. Current Illinois law requires only guidance counselors and teachers for grades seven through 12 to be trained in suicide detection and prevention. The new law also adds participating in or presenting at inservice training programs on suicide prevention to the list of possible professional development activities for teacher certification or certification renewal.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of teen suicides has been increasing in recent years, making suicide the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24. Every year teen suicide results in approximately 4,400 lives lost in the U.S.
The CDC estimates that 149,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for selfinflicted injuries at emergency departments across the U.S. each year. It is estimated that there are 25 suicide attempts for every young person that dies by suicide. A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9-12 in public and private schools found that 15 percent of students reported seriously considering suicide, 11 percent reported creating a plan, and 7 percent reported trying to take their own life in the 12 months preceding the survey.
Approximately eight out of 10 suicidal individuals give signs of their intention. Public health officials believe suicides can be prevented if school officials are properly trained to identify the warning signs of suicide and properly refer students to mental health resources.
HB 4672 was sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and is effective immediately.