On 5 May 2015, Governor Nathan Deal (R - Georgia) signed House Bill 198 --the Jason Flatt Act-- into law.
The new law, which passed both houses of the General Assembly with just one dissenting requires teachers, counselors and other certified public school personnel to have yearly suicide prevention training. The law also requires each school district to adopt a policy on suicide prevention.
Members of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) were on hand for the bill signing ceremony at the State Capitol.
"We thank Governor Deal for signing this important piece of legislation into law," the AFSP said in a statement. "Georgia will now become the 23rd state across the U.S. to require suicide prevention training for school personnel (joining five other states who have annual training requirements), and the 6th state to require school policies on suicide prevention."
Other highlights of the bill include:
- The state Department of Education must require all certificated public school personnel to receive annual training in suicide awareness and prevention as part of existing in-service training programs/professional development;
- The state Department of Education must work with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Suicide Prevention Program, and suicide prevention experts to develop a list of approved training materials that will fulfill the new training requirements;
- Each local school system must adopt a policy on student suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, developed in consultation with school and community stakeholders, school employed mental health professionals, and suicide prevention experts; and
- The state Department of Education must establish a model suicide prevention policy for use by local school systems.