Utah: Big increase in youth suicide; $50.5M more in mental health services

Jan 20, 2019, Salt Lake Tribune: A special kind of crisis: Civil rights complaints allege neglect of special needs students in Utah schools … The prospect of a Utah student resorting to violence against others is disturbing, if rare — extremely rare when compared to documented self-inflicted violence. Last year, there were 42 suicides in Utah among youths ages 10 to 17, quadruple the number a decade earlier. Bankhead felt as though she was alone in a constant battle to get the school district to meet its obligations to provide what federal law requires: a fair and appropriate public education. That means students with special needs must have individualized education plans with the school district to help guide them through. … Leaders of the Utah School Safety Commission at the state Board of Education have found themselves addressing an old problem with new urgency. Given the epidemic of teen suicides and the all-too-frequent headlines around the country about mass school shootings, the commission has been looking at safety in Utah classrooms on two fronts — the physical layout of schools and the mental health of students. The commission will pitch lawmakers in the upcoming session on $160 million in one-time spending for construction and facility improvements at state schools and $30 million in annual, ongoing appropriations for the hiring of mental-health professionals. The governor, in his recommended budget, supported $50.5 million in new funding to support counseling, mental health and other needs in public schools.,