Montpelier, VT – With suicide rates in Vermont at the highest they’ve been in decades, Governor Phil Scott has signed a bill that directs the Department of Health to make a statewide plan to expand training and education for suicide prevention in schools and health facilities.

The bill, championed by Rep. Alyssa Black, whose son died by suicide, is aimed at increasing mental health resources and suicide-prevention tools.

“We are much higher than the national average, and we don’t talk about it enough,” Black, D-Essex, said earlier this year.

Libby Bonesteel, the superintendent of Montpelier Roxbury School District, says the mental-health challenges faced by students are a particular concern.

“There are no options for our schools, and students who need immediate support have nowhere to go,” Bonesteel said. 

The plan will also address gaps in funding for programs like the 988 Lifeline, as well as improve data collection on suicide and contributing factors.

The plan will take effect July 1, 2024.