On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, AFSP volunteers Debra Clancy, Rev. Mary Robin Craig, and Jane Lewins, provided oral testimony to the Ohio Senate Education Committee Hearing on the Jason Flatt Act (HB 543). The bill, which has since been signed into law, now requires teachers, counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, and administrators in schools across Ohio to receive training in youth suicide awareness and prevention.
Debra opened her testimony by stating support for the bill and highlighting AFSP's collaboration with the Jason Foundation: "I am here this morning on behalf of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to support passage of the Jason Flatt Act. We are pleased to be working with the Jason Foundation to support this legislation in Ohio."
Debra, Rev. Craig, and Jane all shared their own stories of how they have been personally impacted by the suicide of a loved one. Rev. Craig also offered an educator’s perspective, commenting on her own and her colleagues’ lack of training and knowledge in the signs of suicidal behavior and how to refer a student at-risk to professional help. She stated, “How critical is it that we offer [our] educators and administrators and counselors the tools they need to respond appropriately and effectively to what they, and often they alone, observe!”
Jane echoed Rev. Craig’s comments, stating that we would be doing those school personnel “a disservice if we do not give them the tools to know what they are seeing, to hear what is not being said, and to respond to the subtleties and the knowledge to act appropriately when a student is at risk.”
AFSP extends our appreciation to each of our volunteers for their testimony and for their courage in sharing their stories in front of the Committee. Thanks to their efforts and the efforts of many other supporters, HB 543 was signed into law by Governor Kasich on 12/20/2012 and went into effect 3/22/13.