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New Virginia laws aim to combat student suicide

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s governor will not be in Richmond when he signs into law two bills aimed at cutting down on student suicides. Instead, he’ll be at a Northern Virginia high school.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is scheduled to be at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge on Tuesday afternoon, June 6, to sign the legislation.

State Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-29th, from Prince William County, said the governor will sign “a piece of bullying legislation as well as training for school counselors on bullying and suicide prevention.”

One bill, House Bill 1709, introduced by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, would require that parents be contacted if their child is involved in bullying.

The other bill, Senate Bill 1117 by McPike, would require school counselors to get training in bullying and suicide prevention when they are renewing their licenses from the state.

McPike said that Battlefield High School senior Payton Freeze took her life in February 2016. He said that the 17-year-old’s father testified to Virginia lawmakers on how a concussion and bullying had contributed to her death.

McPike said these bills are being signed at Forest Park High School by the governor to recognize the students there who, for three years, have organized a suicide awareness walk to shine a light on a dark subject.

“These kids have been so active, this is now the third year running, and they deserve recognition [for the] hard work of trying to raise awareness, which is why we selected Forest Park High School,” he said.

McPike lost his own brother to suicide.

His brother was in high school at the time in Prince William County.

The new laws take effect July 1.


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