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New Idaho law aims to prevent youth suicides

The idea is to empower those who work with youth to be able to prevent suicides.

BOISE - One in five Idaho students attending public school have seriously considered suicide.

It's an alarming statistic that the State Department of Education found in a recent study.

"Idaho does have a high suicide rate amongst our youth and the numbers continue to grow,” said Shannon Decker, the executive director of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Decker is hopeful new legislation will help change that and address a growing problem by creating a minimum standard for training educators.

“At this time, not every school district provides suicide prevention gatekeeper trainings," Decker said.

House Bill 634, known as the Jason Flatt Act of Idaho, requires all educators get suicide prevention training. School districts will provide training opportunities for staff that is approved by the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education.

“There's no hours attached to it,” Decker said. “It's not an additional task, just the opportunity to provide it. A school district that isn't interested in providing it can do something as simple as sending a link to that training.”

The idea is to empower those who work with youth to be able to prevent suicides.

“The more people we have that are able to recognize those signs and intervene early,” Decker said. “The less critical issues that we have."

This bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously, and Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed it into law on Monday.

Nineteen other states have also enacted the Jason Flatt Act.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support, please reach out for help by calling or texting the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-4357, or by clicking here. All calls are confidential and anonymous.

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