Governor Sean Parnell today signed two pieces of legislation to strengthen the state's effort to prevent suicide. House Bill 21, sponsored by Representatives Anna Fairclough, Berta Gardner and Bob Herron, increases the number of members on the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council from 16 to 17. The additional member would provide representation for members of the military.
"Too many Alaskan families know despair and hopelessness," Governor Parnell said. "We will continue to work so that all Alaskans can live free of fear with every day offering hope and opportunity."
Suicide among military personnel is on the rise. This legislation would give a member of the military community a voice at the table regarding suicide prevention in Alaska and would aide in crafting effective counseling, treatment and emergency mental health services.
Governor Parnell also signed Senate Bill 137, the Jason Flatt Act. The bill requires school personnel, including each teacher, administrator, counselor, and specialist who is employed by a district, regional educational attendance area, or department to receive training annually in suicide awareness, prevention, and intervention. The Jason Foundation, which was named after the loss of the founder's son to suicide, has made suicide prevention and education materials available to Alaskans free of charge.