DENVER—Today, legislation that makes over $800,000 available to schools for comprehensive crisis and suicide prevention training goes into effect. Senate Bill 18-272, sponsored by Representatives Terri Carver (R-Colorado Springs) and Barbara McLachlan (D-Durango) and Senators Nancy Todd (D-Aurora) and Beth Martinez-Humenik (R-Thornton), creates the Crisis and Suicide Prevention Training Grant Program to help fund prevention training in schools; with priority given to schools that have previously not received such training. Additionally, the legislation codifies the existing Office of Suicide Prevention into law.
“Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation and we must act now to address this emergency,” said Carver. “Teachers and school administrators often see a different side of youth than friends or parents, and with greater training and awareness may be able to help troubled students get adequate mental health treatment before suicide takes more young lives in Colorado.”
In addition to two $400,000 general fund appropriations over the next two years, the program fund, which is maintained by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), is authorized to accept future appropriations from the state, as well as from gifts, other grants and donations. However, according to the legislation, no more than three percent of the program funding may be used for administrative expenses, each grant recipient must submit a written report to the CDPHE no later than six months after the expiration of the awarded grant, and CDPHE must include a report on the program in their existing annual report on suicide prevention activities.
A recent report indicated suicide is the second-leading cause of death in Colorado for people ages 10-34, surpassing car crashes or homicides.
Tracey A. Johnson, President of the AD 20 Board of Education, made the following statements regarding the new law:
The Crisis & Suicide Prevention Training Grant Program created by SB 272 is a meaningful step towards ensuring that all public schools may have the tools to recognize and prevent the tragedy of suicide which has become all too common among our youth. We in Academy School District 20 believe that to best support our kids persevere through a variety of challenges, we must provide learning opportunities that are as diverse and individualized as the students themselves, which makes SB 272’s grant priority accorded to schools without existent crisis training resources all the more notable. We in public education should be most grateful to the legislative sponsors of this grant program and the significant financial assistance it makes available to schools; these four women resiliently shepherded a bill into being that will truly impact the health, safety and security of all Colorado students without stepping on local school boards’ directional control.