By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
A bill aimed at training Wyoming students hope to recognize the signs of suicidal thoughts in their peers is awaiting action by the full House of Representatives this week.
House Bill 175, sponsored by Rep. Rachel Rodgriguez-Williams, R-Cody, was approved by the House Education Committee on Friday and sent to the House floor for debate.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people ages 15 through 24 in Wyoming. A recent Wyoming study conducted by the private Prevention Management Organization (PMO) shows that half of all residents in the state have been touched in some way by suicide.
That’s why a bill that would train students to recognize the signs of suicidal thoughts in their peers could be a benefit, according to Rodriguez-Williams.
“I’ve met several families who have lost a loved one to suicide, particularly the youth, a child, and so often they tell a friend before they tell a trusted adult,” she said.
Rodriguez-Williams said HB 175 would require school districts to provide suicide awareness and prevention programs to Wyoming students grades six through 12 — just as they currently do for teachers.
Terresa Humphries-Wadsworth, a licensed psychologist whose focus is on suicide prevention, said that especially for youth, the bill being considered would give teens tools to help friends who are in trouble.
“How to say something to that trusted adult, how to approach their friend that they care so much about in a way that can be life saving and affirming and get that person to help that they need and help combat those lies that their depression or their stress is telling them — those lies that they’re not worth it when they really, really are,” Humphries-Wadsworth said.
Rodriguez-Williams said the bill does not require any funding.
“There’s no fiscal note tied to this bill at all,” she said. “And if it does pass most school districts will access the Suicide Prevention experts in their respective counties.”