WASHINGTON: Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education Act

March 31, 2017
News Type:  From the Field
State:  Washington

The Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education Act of 2016 amends and extends Washington State’s groundbreaking 2014 suicide prevention education legislation. Signed by Governor Jay Inslee on March 31, 2016, the bill was spearheaded by Jennifer Stuber, a professor of social work at the University of Washington and cofounder of Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, and supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Second Amendment Foundation. The legislation responds to data showing that 51 percent of suicides in Washington State are associated with firearms and that 19 percent are associated with poison, including prescription medication. As noted in the legislation, Washington’s suicide rate is 14 percent higher than the national average.

The legislation adds pharmacists to those professionals who are required to complete suicide prevention training as part of their state certification. It establishes a project to develop a curriculum on suicide assessment, treatment, and management for pharmacy students, and educational materials for pharmacists on the safe storage of medications and recognizing and responding to the warning signs of suicide.

Other provisions in the act support the distribution of safe storage devices for firearms and medicine and adding suicide awareness information to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hunter training courses.

The act also establishes a committee that will develop the curriculum and educational materials needed to implement the legislation. This group will be chaired by Jennifer Stuber and include representatives of the NRA and Second Amendment Foundation, as well as suicide prevention organizations, firearms industry representatives, suicide attempt and loss survivors, law enforcement, public health and veterans affairs agencies, pharmacy schools, and the state pharmacy association.

For more information on policies that may have an impact on suicide, see Suicide Prevention Policy and Legislation

Planning and Implementing:  Policy and Legislation
Strategies:  Reduce Access to Means