New Maine law requires suicide prevention training for all school personnel

A new law, signed by Governor Paul R. LePage in April, requires all school personnel to complete Suicide Prevention Awareness Training beginning in the 2014-15 academic year. In addition, all school administrative units (SAUs) must have at least two staff members trained as suicide prevention “gatekeepers.” SAUs with more than 1,000 students will need to add (at least) one gatekeeper for every additional 500 students.

Maine school personnel who must complete this training includes but is not limited to administrators, teachers, support staff, custodians, bus drivers, duty monitors, coaches and cafeteria workers. The one- to two-hour in-service training module must be completed by all high school personnel beginning in the 2014-15 school year and by all elementary and middle school personnel starting in the 2015-16 school year. Employees shall complete the training module by the end of the school year or, for newly-hired employees, within six months from the beginning of employment. Suicide prevention awareness education must be repeated every five years.

There are a variety of training options available, including those offered in different areas around the state by the Maine Suicide Prevention Program (MSPP). The MSSP training program includes Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training, Prevention Awareness Training and Training of Trainers, which is designed to prepare participants to offer Awareness Training themselves. In the coming year, the MSSP will develop an online version of Awareness Training, funded in large part by a generous $44,000 contribution by Governor LePage from his contingency fund to support this important work. Districts are encouraged to review their crisis response plans, including response protocols for completed or attempted suicides, as they move forward with trainings plans.

In the coming months, Maine DOE will establish rules within school approval statutes to guide and inform the implementation of this new law. For information and resources to support suicide prevention, visit www.maine.gov/suicide/. For questions about this law and its implementation, contact Susan Berry at susan.berry@maine.gov or 207-624-6695.

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