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State to require suicide prevention training

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Mental health professionals will be required to undergo suicide prevention training under a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assembly Bill 1436 by Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-Marin County, establishes minimum training requirements for mental health professionals to assess suicide risk and intervene. It had bipartisan support in the state Senate and Assembly.

Levine said in a written statement:

“Death by suicide is increasing at an alarming rate … We need to make sure our mental health professionals have the tools and the training they need to reverse this trend and to save lives.”

Nearly 45,000 people committed suicide in 2016, and the rate among people 45-64 increased the most, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half the people who committed suicide in 27 states were not diagnosed with a mental illness, CDC officials said.

Levine said the bill will ensure all licensed mental health professionals receive training in risk assessment and intervention. The bill encourages graduate programs, internships and post-doctoral training programs to evaluate the levels of training provided in their programs.

Brown last year signed Levine’s bill AB 89 that requires all applicants for licensure as a psychologist with the Board of Psychology to complete a minimum of six hours of coursework and/or applied experience in suicide risk assessment and intervention.

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