Bill aimed at preventing youth suicide unanimously passes state Senate

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On Tuesday, the Alabama Senate unanimously passed SB11 from Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) to establish a suicide prevention training program for teachers and school officials.

The bill is also called the “Jason Flatt Act,” named for a young man who committed suicide in 1997. His father, Clark Flatt established The Jason Foundation to advocated for suicide prevention training in Alabama schools. Flatt was instrumental in crafting the legislation, which garnered support from Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban.

“There is no doubt this legislation will save young lives,” Flatt remarked in a news release. “The Jason Foundation is very thankful for all the help that Senator Allen has provided in sponsoring this bill. He has been instrumental in raising support from the many organizations and individuals across Alabama that are moving this legislation forward.”

The legislation requires educators to receive extensive training on identifying stages of “mental decline,” often indicative of possible suicide, and effective ways of combating such decline and aiding needy students.

“Some young people suffer silently and don’t know where to turn,” Allen said in the release. “Students spend more time at school than almost anywhere else, and we have to make sure our teachers and administrators have the tools to recognize when a student is struggling, so help can be offered promptly and effectively.”

Passage of the legislation marks another success of Senate Republicans in tackling their 2016 agenda. The bill now heads to the Alabama House of Representatives, where it will likely see a similar outcome as it did in the Senate.

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