Legislature Sends Bill Requiring Suicide Prevention Training for Mental Health Professionals to Governor’s Desk

Thursday, August 30, 2018

(Sacramento, CA) – Just two months after the Centers for Disease Control announced suicide death rates have risen significantly since the late 1990s, and following the tragic losses of fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain, lawmakers sent Governor Jerry Brown Assembly Bill 1436 by Assemblymember Marc Levine that would require marriage and family therapists, educational psychologists and other mental health professionals to receive suicide prevention training.

Last year, Governor Brown signed AB 89 by Assemblymember Levine, D-Marin County, which requires all applicants for licensure as a psychologist with the Board of Psychology to complete a minimum of six hours of coursework and/or applied experience in suicide risk assessment and intervention. This bill extends that legislation and ensures that all mental health professionals receive the training necessary to identify suicidal ideation.

“We can do more to prevent these tragedies and help loved ones who are in need,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine. “We now have the data that prove suicide is indeed on the rise. But we can reverse that trend if we refuse to give up and ensure professionals have the training and resources necessary to offer life-saving care.”

“[In the same week we lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to suicide,] we also lost 859 other Americans to suicide during the week” says Gordon Doughty, a Board Member of the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide.  “We need to do more in preparing mental health professionals and the general public in identifying suicide warning signs and get those who have suicidal ideation to treatment.”

"This bill represents a critical step in addressing what truly has become a public health crisis in our nation," said Maggie Merritt, Executive Director of the Steinberg Institute, which is sponsoring AB 1436. "Research has identified several treatment options now proven to make a remarkable impact on suicide prevention. But we need our front-line mental health professionals trained in these practices if we're going to save more lives."

The bill is headed to the governor’s desk for a signature.

# # #

Assemblymember Marc Levine represents the 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and Sonoma Counties