Virginia and New York enact first laws demanding mental health education
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New York and Virginia are now the first two states with laws requiring schools to include mental health education in their basic curriculum.

Both states enacted laws on Sunday mandating the change. 

New York's legislation requires its schools to include material on mental health as part of its curriculum for students in elementary, middle and high school. And Virginia's law requires its schools include mental health topics in physical education and health curricula for students in the ninth and 10th grade, CNN reported on Monday.

The Empire State’s law, which was reportedly written in 2015, says mental health is “an integral part of our overall health and should be an integral part of health education in New York schools." 


New York's legislation also cites a statistic stating that "90 percent of youth who die by suicide suffer from depression or another diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of their death."

Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D), whose son died by suicide in 2013, sponsored his state’s mental health bill after attending a presentation from high schoolers last year on ways to address such issues in schools.

"I was impressed by their thoughtfulness, because a lot of these young people had seen bullying. They had seen depression. They had seen classmates that had died by suicide," Deeds told CNN. "It's part of tearing down the stigma and providing some equality with those that struggle with mental health."

Deeds's son, Gus Deeds, had been taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation but was released when there were no psychiatric beds readily available. He stabbed his father the next day before ending his own life.

Suicide rates are on the rise in almost every state, according to an analysis released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the center, suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and is one of three leading causes that are on the rise.