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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Help for troubled students before they cause trouble

Senate passes Sosnowski bill to require colleges to address mental health of their students

Image result for suicidal studentThe Senate has approved legislation introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), that would require each public institution of postsecondary education to establish a plan for addressing the mental health needs of its students.

The bill (2018-S 2346) would require each institution to develop policies aimed at identifying a student exhibiting suicidal behavior or tendencies.

“Rising rates have lifted suicide to the 10th leading cause of death in the United States,” said Senator Sosnowski. 

“This legislation will help institutions of higher learning to identify vulnerable individuals and connect them with treatment and other supports. It will also lead to the training of educators and support staff to recognize risk factors for suicide and help those at risk to access support services. With so much tragedy coming from college campuses, this is an issue that cannot be ignored.”

The legislation comes at a critical moment. While the rates of many other leading causes of death, including heart disease and stroke, have declined, suicides are on the rise, with rates increasing by more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The bill is the latest policy measure designed to address suicide prevention. Last year, the General Assembly passed a law that requires the Department of Education to consider incorporating into the curriculum programs related to suicide prevention.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Senators Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket), Jeanine C. Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) and Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.