AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday signed a bipartisan bill that will require public school personnel to receive training in suicide prevention and awareness.
The measure was sponsored by Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay, and co-sponsored a broad contingent of lawmakers. It passed unanimously in the Legislature.
LePage announced Tuesday that he would use $44,000 from his contingency account to support implementation of the bill.
Gilbert said the bill was the most important initiative that he had ever worked on.
“Suicide affects communities and can happen to anyone,” Gilbert said. “This is going to save lives and I am thrilled to see this become law.”
LePage held a ceremonial bill signing Tuesday. Lawmakers who supported the measure and parents who lost children to suicide were present for the ceremony.
Grace Eaton of Livermore Falls and Nancy Thompson of Cape Elizabeth attended the signing.
“Truly, I believe education is the key to suicide awareness and prevention,” Eaton said in a press release. “Since the death of my son Glen, it has been my goal and dream to have all school personnel receive suicide awareness and prevention training.”
Said Thompson, “This is a huge day for my family. The more people who are educated about the warning signs of suicide, the more people will be saved.”
LePage, in a press statement, said the bill had his full support and that he wanted “to ensure that teachers have the training they need to move forward and make a difference.”
The law requires Maine school staff to undergo suicide education and awareness training. Trainings will occur every five years.
LePage’s communications staff did not allow media to attend the bill signing on Tuesday.