Teen suicide prevention bill up for vote in Frankfort

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WHAS11.com

Posted on February 2, 2010 at 6:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 2 at 6:24 PM

A bill requiring Kentucky teachers to learn the signs of suicide is up for a vote Tuesday night in Frankfort.

It's the work of several Bullitt County families whose daughters committed suicide after being the victims of cyber bullying.

"I left her one day for 15 minutes and I came back to find her gone," said Tina Smith who’s daughter, Karissa was the last of three girls to take her lif during a one year period.  They all went to Bullitt East High School.

Since then, the families have joined to save other young lives with information that may have saved Tina Smith's daughter.

Their organization, Make a Difference for Kids, is pushing for greater awareness of teen suicide and greater understanding of the warning signs and risk factors.

"Rachel, my niece, was a happy bubbly teenager who four months before she killed herself wrote my daughter and said I’m so happy, I’m so happy I’m so happy. Four months later she takes her life," said Rachel Neblett's aunt.

But there were warning signs the family says they missed.   Now the Senate is in the process of passing a bill that would require teachers, counselors, and administrators to be trained in the warning signs of suicide.

The House is considering a similar bill.

"Hopefully when people start to think about it even parents who thought my child would never do this will be able to look at the signs and symptoms because it will be on a website," said a lawmaker.

It was the suicide of Rachel Neblett that first brought attention to cyber bullying and led to the family asking lawmakers for a bullying bill that included internet threats.  Next these families hope to reach all students and teachers with the help of lawmakers.

"Parents don't want to come home and find something happened to their kids.  They don’t want to have to go around wearing their picture on a shirt stating what kind of person they was,” said one parent.

"Parents do not want to go and fill my shoes what I went through because they are gone forever," said another parent whos daughter committed suicide.

In the conversation about suicide, parents will learn that it's the second leading cause of death among teens and that in a classroom of 25, five are seriously thinking about suicide and two to three actually will attempt it. 

If you want more information on these bills or want to contact state lawmakers visit Kentucky Legislature .

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