There is new legislation in Lansing aimed at preventing teen suicides. Jake Neher has more.
The state Legislature has wrapped up its work for 2015, and lawmakers are now setting their agendas for the new year. One Republican state representative hopes to prevent teen suicides in 2016 and beyond by requiring more training for teachers. The number of Michigan teens committing suicide is on the rise according to the Michigan League for Public Policy.
State Rep. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) has introduced House Bill 5154, which would require more teacher training on warning signs and risk factors for suicide and depression. He says there’s only so much teachers can do to prevent bullying. “But you can sure as heck try to defuse somebody’s thought to killing themselves after learning that somebody has been bullying them,” said Lucido. “I think a small portion of their professional development should be devoted to giving them indications and signs of what it is that a person troubled that would be thinking that thought… or how to deal with somebody who may have heard from another student that this is what they intend to do.”
A 2012 report from the Michigan Department of Community Health says 16 percent of Michigan teens seriously consider suicide. That’s based on data from 2009. Lucido says he believes cyberbullying is contributing to the recent rise in teen suicides. “Because of social media and because of being exposed to the internet. And you can continue a process of mental destruction of an individual because of these tools,” he said. State law already encourages schools to provide suicide prevention training, but it’s not required.