Thursday, July 31, 2008

California Takes A Stand for Teen Suicide Prevention

In the ongoing and long-overdue flurry of activity around mental health services for our young people, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger here in California this week signed a bill for teen suicide prevention.
Known as the Jason Flatt Act, named after a 16-year-old who successfully suicided, the law allows school districts in California to use a handful of dollars from their Professional Development Block Grants for suicide prevention training of teachers.
This sort of legislation makes for decent ink for both the Governor and the California Teachers Association, which supported the bill. But the reality is the Jason Flatt Act falls very flat. Schools can't use the funds until 2014. When that day comes, they can provide faculty with a paltry two hours of training.
This hardly seems like an urgent response to a very real crisis. The bill itself points out that suicide is the third-leading cause of death for American youth 15 to 24, fourth for kids 10 to 14 and second for college-aged young people.
With tragic numbers like those, it's almost embarrassing that this is the best our Golden State can do.
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