State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills) has introduced legislation that would establish suicide prevention programs at Ohio’s public institutions of higher education.

House Bill 28 was favorably voted out of the House Community and Family Advancement Committee. The program would consist of five criteria, including intervention access, mental health programs access, multimedia application access, a student communication plan, and a postvention plan. The Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will have free materials posted on their respective websites, which will qualify each criteria.

Proponents from across the state came to testify in support of the legislation. Kevin Stankiewicz, a student at The Ohio State University, testified that the transition to college is unlike anything else in life and if support systems are not in place on campus, it can lead to feelings of being lost with nowhere to turn.

“It is my intention to bring awareness to the ‘Silent Epidemic’ that is affecting our most precious gifts, our children,” said Rep. Anielski. “For many students, college is the first time they have been away from their family, friends, and childhood home. A new life stage can be stressful and unsettling and students need to know programs and help are available should they find themselves or others struggling.”

In its 2011 Youth Risk Behavioral Report for Ohio, the Center for Disease Control reported that one in seven Ohio students said they had 'seriously considered suicide' in the past 12 months. Slightly more than one in seven had actually 'made a plan to commit suicide' in that timeframe. Additionally, one in 11 Ohio students reported 'attempting suicide one or more times in the past 12 months,' nearly 50 percent higher than the national average.

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