Youth Suicide Prevention Program for Alabama Schools Passes Senate

By Gerald Allen

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, the Alabama Senate unanimously passed the Jason Flatt Act by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa). Senate Bill 11, supported by the University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, establishes an annual suicide prevention-training program for Alabama’s schoolteachers and education administrators.

The legislation requires that educators receive extensive training on how to identify the signs of mental health decline that often accompany suicide, and the most effective means of offering help to at-risk youth.

“Some young people suffer silently and don’t know where to turn,” Allen said. “Students spend more time at school than almost anywhere else, and we have to make sure our teachers and administrators have the tools to recognize when a student is struggling, so help can be offered promptly and effectively.”

The legislation is named for Jason Flatt, a young man who committed suicide in 1997. His father, Mr. Clark Flatt, established The Jason Foundation to advocate for suicide prevention training in America’s schools. Mr. Flatt was instrumental in helping craft the bill.

“There is no doubt this legislation will save young lives,” Mr. Flatt remarked. “The Jason Foundation is very thankful for all the help that Senator Allen has provided in sponsoring this bill. He has been instrumental in raising support from the many organizations and individuals across Alabama that are moving this legislation forward.”

Senate Bill 11 has received strong public support from Coach Nick Saban, who praised the legislation at a press conference in Tuscaloosa last Tuesday.

The Jason Flatt Act is a key component of the Alabama Senate Republicans “Continuing Positive Progress” legislative agenda. SB11 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senator Gerald Allen represents District 21 in the Alabama State Senate, which is comprised of all or parts of Tuscaloosa, Pickens, and Lamar Counties. He is chairman of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee. Follow him on Twitter for legislative updates: @SenGeraldAllen