Dear editor,

I recently read an eloquent letter to the editor ("Schools need suicide prevention training," by Marie Osuna, Jan. 18 Pine Journal) that urged the State of Minnesota to prioritize suicide prevention, including requiring teachers to have suicide prevention training.

Readers should know that Minnesota was the first state in the country to require teachers to have two hours of training on the early warning signs of mental illness in students. That legislation passed in 2003. In 2016, legislation passed that requires teacher to have one-hour of evidence-based training on suicide prevention. The National Alliance on Mental Illness was proud to work on both bills knowing the importance of reducing the suicide rate among our youth.

This legislative session, NAMI Minnesota will ask the Legislature to fully fund an online suicide prevention training program called Kognito. Around 30 school districts currently access this training through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health and give it a high rating in terms of effectiveness and ease of use.

This issue is important enough that we need to make sure that every teacher can access this important training.

Sue Abderholden, MPH

Executive director

National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota