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  • Erin Butts, School Mental Health Coordinator, 406.444.0688
  • Tracy Moseman, Coordinated School Health Unit Director,406.444.3000
  • Jordan Brown, Project AWARE Initiative, 406.444.0773

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Bully Free Montana!

Montana Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training Act

HB 374

Description:  The Montana Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training Act was passed by the Montana Legislature in 2015. The Act directs the Montana Office of Public Instruction to provide training and technical assistance to schools in Montana about youth suicide awareness and prevention training.

If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 1-800-273-Talk (1-800-273-8255).

OPI Staff are here to help:

  • Erin Butts, School Mental Health Coordinator
  • Tracy Moseman, Coordinated School Health Unit Director
  • Jordan Brown, Project AWARE Initiative
  • HB 374
  • Why is this bill important?

    Suicide Rates

  • Key Components of the Law:
    • The legislature recommends schools make suicide prevention training available annually to staff
    • Training is free to staff
    • Training can be provided by:
      • In person
      • Video conferencing
      • Individual program of study
      • On-line
      • Any other method chosen by local school board that is consistent with professional training standards

Jason Foundation
suicide awarenessSafe Schools
Youth Mental Health First Aid



Montana Trainers



Description of Trainings

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a 16-hour in-person training for anyone 16 or older, regardless of prior experience, who wants to be able to provide suicide first aid. Shown by major studies to significantly reduce suicidality, the ASIST model teaches effective intervention skills while helping to build suicide prevention networks in the community.

School districts that participate in MTSBA’s Montana Schools Group Insurance Authority (MSGIA) property and liability program have free access to online trainings in the area of Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention. The two-hour online course meets the requirements of the Jason Flatt Act and offers school staff members an awareness-level understanding of the facts about youth suicide, causes of youth suicide, basic principles of suicide prevention and planning for the aftermath of a suicide within the school community. Click on Courses, then Social & Behavioral.

SafeTALK is a half-day in person alertness workshop that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper.  SafeTALK-trained helpers can recognize suicide invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources, such as caregivers trained in ASIST.

Jason Foundation
The Jason Foundation series of online Staff Development Training Modules provide information on the awareness and prevention of youth suicide suitable for teachers, coaches, other school personnel.  These modules are provided at no cost to participants.  Each module is designed for a two-hour block of time.

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR)
Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. QPR is the most widely taught Gatekeeper training in the world and can be provided in a three-hour in-person session with your staff in groups up to 30 people.

Youth Mental Health First Aid
Youth Mental Health First Aid is an eight hour in-person training designed to teach parents, family members, schools, and others how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.   This training is provided free of charge.


Implementing any protocol requires adequate supervision and licensure of staff. Simply being exposed to a document does not mean someone is adequately trained to facilitate the implementation of a suicide protocol.

Once your school has completed training with staff on how to identify a child who may be struggling, you may be wondering what to do next. Most schools determine that the next step is to develop some formal processes or protocols for how the building will effectively and efficiently respond to a concern for a child’s mental wellness. Some common questions that arise include:

  • Once we identify a child might be struggling, who do we send them to?
  • What if our school doesn’t have a Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT) or other mental health professional in the building?
  • What if our community doesn’t have professional mental health services?
  • Who in our building is trained and ready to assess the suicidal risk of a child?
  • What if a child is in need of follow-up support?
  • Who has the conversation with parents?

These questions are important for schools to answer to feel confident they are doing the best they can to support children who may be suicidal. There are several support services in the state that are ready to help.

  • The Bitterroot Valley Education Cooperative has created a process and protocol for their schools to answer all of these questions. Educators in their district know the process to follow when they are concerned about a child’s mental health. Please visit their websiteto see what they have done, or contact Steve Zieglowsky, School Behavioral Health Specialist at 406.777.2494 ext. 100
  • Erin Butts, School Based Mental Health Coordinator for the Montana Office of Public Instruction has guided schools through this process. She is happy to help you get started and can be reached at 406.444.0688 or

Additional Resources

  • Overview of a Suicide Emergency Operations Plan Annex: This document includes items for a school to consider when creating a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan with a specific hazard annex on suicide. Included in this document are tips for schools to address in the planning phases including: 1) Prevention 2) Protection 3) Mitigation 4) Response and 5) Recovery.
  • Coping with the Sudden Death of a Student: This document was created by the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency in Bettendorf Iowa and includes a step by step guide for administrators in dealing with the Response and Recovery stages of a student death.
  • Peace Protocol: Kurt Michael, Ph.D. and Licensed Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Appalachian State University has worked with schools in Montana to create a suicide protocol called the Peace Protocol. Click here to view the protocol and click here to read the most recent publication about the Peace Protocol and its impact in rural communities.
  • Montana School-Based Crisis Intervention Project



Resources for Parents


Resources for Schools

  • Programs for Students:
    • B1 ProgramThe Jason Foundation is very grateful to have a well-known, award winning country group, Rascal Flatts, as Celebrity Ambassadors.  The Rascal Flatts involvement brought about a very unique program we call “The B1 Pledge.” By taking a few short minutes to go through “The B1 Pledge,” you can help take some of the “silence” away from the “Silent Epidemic” of youth suicide.
    • “A Friend Asks” app“A Friend Asks” is a FREE smart-phone app that helps provide the information, tools and resources to help a friend (or yourself) who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide. Education is the key to prevention and with information like this as close as your smartphone; you could help save a life!
    • Signs of Suicide (SOS) is a secondary school-based suicide prevention program that includes screening and education.  Students are screened for depression and suicide risk and referred for professional help as indicated.  Students also view a video that teaches them to recognize signs of depression and suicide in themselves and others.  They are taught that the appropriate response to these signs is to use the ACT technique: acknowledge that there is a problem, let the person know you care, and tell a trusted adult. 
    • Youth Mental Health First AID (YMHFA) is designed to teach parents, family, schools, peers and others how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.  The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a five-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. 
  • Tools for Schools
    • In this video created by Mayo Clinic, teens describe common signs that a teen is considering suicide and provide encouragement for communicating directly and immediately for support and safety.  It also includes suggestions for what to say to a teen who may be at risk for suicide and ways to keep them safe.
    • A Promise for TomorrowThis curriculum unit is designed for students in grades 7-12. This study unit, “A Promise for Tomorrow,” provides students with suicide awareness and prevention information through peer support and appropriate response to peers in need.
    • Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools is a guide to assist schools and districts in designing and implementing strategies to prevent suicide and promote behavioral health.  Includes tools to implement a multi-suicide prevention program that responds to the needs and cultures of students.
  • Coaches: