When lawmakers gave more than $69 million in mental health to school districts after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, many cast the funding as a way to help prevent future mass shootings and identify troubled students who needed help.
But there was little discussion while crafting the bill — and no mention in the final 105 pages of legislation — that specifically directed schools to consider suicide prevention efforts, the most pressing mental health challenge facing a generation and the second leading cause of death for young people under 35.
As Parkland continues to be rocked by a pair of recent suicides tied to the trauma of last year’s shooting, a Herald/Times review shows that though school districts outlined spending those mental health dollars to hire hundreds of counselors, therapists and other mental health personnel, only a handful of plans explicitly flagged suicide prevention programs as a central focus. Seventeen of the 67 counties’ plans didn’t mention suicide or suicide prevention at all.
That has raised questions about how well-resourced schools are to address existing mental health issues and, in Parkland’s case, combat the widespread trauma that still lingers after last year’s tragedy.
Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald.