Nurses in Washington State will have to complete continuing education in suicide prevention training as House Bill 2315 was signed into law March 27 by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. The law goes into effect on June 12.
The law requires RNs and many other health professionals to take six hours of training in suicide assessment, treatment and management every six years to maintain their licenses.
More people end their lives by suicide in Washington state than in other parts of the U.S., on average (14 per 100,000 persons compared to 12 per 100,000 nationally).
Veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population. Washington is home to more than 60,000 military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill cited these statistics as part of the need for suicide training.
Pros and cons
Nurses and nursing organizations stood on both sides of the issue. The Nurse.com interviews took place prior to March 27. Jamie Navetta, RN, MN, CNE, lead nurse planner and director of conference management for continuing nursing education at the University of Washington, supported the bill. I believe in education, she said. I feel that this bill will help practitioners…especially those on front lines, engage patients.
While nurses should be competent in suicide prevention training, mandatory CE is not the solution, said Sofia Aragon, RN, JD, senior governmental affairs advisor, Washington State
We think mental and behavioral healthcare is very important, she said. In Washington, nurses are required to have continuing competency, and a nurse makes self assessment about what he or she needs to be competent. A nurse anesthetist, for example, would not need [suicide training].
Aragon said another concern of WSNA is once CE is mandated, what else would we want to legislate others to learn?
Instead, Aragon said the WSNA urged lawmakers to fund mental health services, which have been cut to the point that even if a nurse were to refer a patient with mental health needs, theres no one to refer them to.
Washington became the first state to mandate suicide training for mental health professionals with the passage of the Matt Adler Suicide Assessment, Management & Treatment Act of 2012. Last year Forefront, an advocacy organization, was established at the University of Washington to continue building stronger suicide prevention policies.