Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon signed student safety legislation to help prevent cyber bullying and youth suicide.

“Every student should feel safe at school, and every teacher should have the resources and training needed to keep them safe,” Gov. Nixon said. “This is an important piece of legislation that can improve and save lives, and I appreciate the work of the Legislature to bring it to my desk.”

House Bill 1583 allows licensed educators, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, to annually complete up to two hours of training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention to satisfy a portion of the hours required for professional development.

This legislation also directs the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop guidelines and training materials on this issue, and to require each school district to have a policy in place by 2018 on youth suicide awareness and prevention. House Bill 1583 also clarifies the definition of bullying and includes the definition of cyber bullying in state statutes regarding schools’ anti-bullying policies.

A release from the Governor's office said: "A cornerstone of this initiative was the placement of 31 community mental health liaisons (CMHLs) statewide to work with law enforcement and court personnel to connect people in behavioral health crises to treatment. To date, there have been more than 31,000 contacts between Community Mental Health Liaisons, law enforcement and the courts, with more than 18,000 referrals to mental health services." 

The Strengthening Mental Health Initiative also included the placement of emergency room intervention teams in seven regions of the state, including coordination with 65 hospitals and health centers. Since their implementation, 3,302 individuals have been engaged in Emergency Room Enhancement services. Outcomes for individuals who have received services include a 56 percent decrease in ER visits and a 57 percent decrease in hospitalizations; a 62 percent decrease in homelessness; a 41 percent decrease in arrests; and a 99 percent increase in treatment program enrollment.