(KCPW News) Utah teachers will soon have a new type of training, one aimed at saving their students’ lives. House Bill 501 requires all teachers in the state to receive two hours of youth suicide prevention training. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he wanted to get this in place before retiring from his post at the end of this year, motivated by the story of Clark Flatt, and by his own daughter.
“About eight nine years ago I was at an attorney general conference, and he told about finding his 16 year old son dead. I realized that my own daughter was in crisis, she talked about wanting to hurt herself and I kind of blew it off,” he says. “He told all of us that day: never take a child’s statement of wanting to hurt themselves lightly. I got up and left the conference and went home, and started talking to her, and because we were talking, when she attempted suicide I was there and was able to save her life.”
Since the suicide of his son in 1997, Flatt has made it his mission to get teachers trained in suicide prevention. He attended a ceremonial signing of HB 501 with Governor Gary Herbert at the State Capitol Wednesday.
“We started the Jason Foundation to start providing education, not scaring people, not alarming people,” he tells KCPW. “Today, regrettably, it’s not the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24, it’s the third leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24, so our job is to help educate.”
Utah is the eighth state to sign such a bill into law.
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