A Washington law set to take effect on June 7 requires mental health professionals to receive additional training to help them detect and prevent suicides.
The Matt Adler Suicide Assessment, Treatment and Management Act of 2012 (ESHB 2366) was signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire in March.
Under new rules set by the law, mental health professionals -- psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists -- will be required to receive six hours of suicide prevention training every six years, starting in 2014. The training will be in addition to continuing education courses professionals are already required to take.
Washington is the first state in the country to enact such a requirement.
"Health professionals are licensed by the state with the expectation they will protect the public, but not all clinicians receive this critical suicide prevention training,” said state Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) in a statement this week. She noted that suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Washington, costing more lives than homicide, HIV/Aids and traffic accidents combined.
Sue Eastgard of the King County Suicide Prevention Coalition said more health care professionals need to know the signs of a suicidal person.
The law is named after Matt Adler, a Seattle attorney suffering from depression and anxiety disorder who killed himself in February 2011. His widow, University of Washington social work professor Jennifer Stuber, urged passage of the law, saying early detection and competent care in the treatment of suicidal thoughts could have saved her husband's life.
"That's been a strong theme of my own healing process, is trying to make sure this doesn't happen to other famillies," Stuber said of the law.
Suicide prevention hotlines: King County: 866.427.4747 | National: 1(800) 273-8255 (TALK)