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At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, IA labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?

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One congressman cites ways Biden could get more support from communities of color. A new Louisiana law reclassifies two abortion medications as controlled substances. And Ohio advocates work to boost youth voter turnout.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

KY bill would strengthen trauma-informed resources in schools

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Monday, March 11, 2024   

Suicide rates among young Kentuckians are rising and proposed legislation would strengthen trauma-informed care in schools and boost youth suicide prevention resources.

According to the latest state data, one in seven high school students reported having seriously considered suicide within a 12-month period.

Sheila Schuster, executive director of the Advocacy Action Network, and a licensed psychologist for the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition, said the bill would increase suicide prevention trainings for teachers and staff, and require training be done when students return from winter break.

"The data show that's a very stressful time when the kids have been off school, away from their peers," Schuster explained. "That's a time of increased anxiety, either about being away from school or having to go back to school."

The bill has received scrutiny for its proposal to allow schools to establish so-called "guardians" programs, made up of honorably discharged military veterans and retired or former law enforcement officers to address a statewide shortage of School Resource Officers.

Joe Bargione, a licensed psychologist and consultant, noted trauma-informed care is important because it helps students feel connected to their school and more likely to reach out to a trusted adult if they're struggling. He said Senate Bill 2 would require districts' trauma-informed teams -- which typically include school nurses, counselors and social workers -- to submit their plans to the state for review each year.

"The reason why I think that's important is because right now, we don't have a way of collecting all those trauma-informed plans and analyzing, you know, what's working in our districts," Bargione pointed out.

Ben Chandler, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and chair of the Kentucky Coalition for Healthy Children noted the data around young Kentuckians' mental health -- in particular, suicide attempts -- is alarming.

"One in 10 have reported attempted suicide," Chandler stressed. "The rates of kids who have either thought about or planning suicide more than doubled among sixth graders, between 2014 and 2021."

He added the coalition's member groups continue to work with schools to address the mental health crisis and improve resiliency among students.

Disclosure: The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues, and Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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