Jason Flatt Act implemented in Kansas

Act calls for new school protocols concerning teen suicide

Payton Fenwick

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Jason Flatt Act implemented in Kansas

The Jason Flatt Act was brought to attention to the first state, Tennessee, in 2007. It was then passed by 17 other states through out the next nine years. Finally, in 2016, Kansas was the 19th state to pass this bill.

“It deals with awareness, and what responsibilities teachers have when they become aware,” counselor Jana Crittenden said.

This bill pertains to the prevention and intervention of teen suicide. Jason Flatt was a 16-year-old who was seen as unlikely to ever commit suicide. It came as a shock to his family, friends and teachers. He became another statistic toward the ‘Silent Epidemic’ of teen suicides across the nation. The training is intended to help staff members notice the signs of possible suicidal ideation. Awareness is key in preventing suicides.

“I think it is something that has just taken a tragedy or trauma to bring this to light and I think schools are finding more and more instances of suicidal ideation or completion of suicide.

So, this came about because of someone, unfortunately, who had completed suicide and I think by more states getting involved, and Kansas finally getting involved, I think it’s about awareness,” school psychologist Jeanne Harper said.

By Kansas entering the fight against this ‘Silent Epidemic’, any adult who works in any school in Kansas must complete special training that will help the staff recognize the signs of suicidal ideation. Not only will this training help with recognizing signs, but it will also bring a level of consistency to how the staff handles these sensitive situations.

“I think before it fell to counselors and social workers primarily to do any reporting or interventions. Anything that was done, could’ve been different in each building depending on what the administration, counselors or social workers wanted to do, or how they wanted to inform their staff. It has brought a lot more consistency to the reporting and to the follow-up and informing of parents,” Crittenden said.

The suicide prevention protocol is headed by the District Crisis Team. This team will evaluate any suicidal ideation threat and provide intervention as needed. They are also committed to taking care of every possible threat to the best of their abilities.

“We are transitioning to a new structure. So, in the new structure team, the safety team, would be the school psychologists, social workers, the counselors and the administration. As you look at the district umbrella, the crisis team is going to be Dr. Hamm, the asst. Superintendents and the principals,” Crittenden said.

With the Jason Flatt act now being brought into light in Kansas, the district crisis team and district staff members are committed to preventing suicides. With the issue of stopping the ‘silent epidemic’ that is teen suicide, the Jason Flatt foundation can be credited to bringing awareness.