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In wake of teens’ deaths, lawmaker calls for more suicide prevention education

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Following the suicides of two St. Lawrence County teenagers, who were victims of internet blackmail, one state lawmaker wants more suicide prevention education.

Senator Patty Ritchie says what happened to Riley Basford and Shylynn Dixon is heart breaking and believes the bill she’s putting forward is the first step towards keeping kids safe from internet predators.

“I think everyone in the community was devastated to have two of these terrible tragedies in St. Lawrence County happen so close together,” said Ritchie (R. - 48th District). “I’ve heard from, you know, some of the relatives that were involved in this and something that I, personally, take very seriously and wanted to see if there was a way for us to do something.”

Ritchie has introduced a bill that would require the state’s Office for Mental Health and Education Department to develop materials regarding suicide prevention for school-age children, including social media safety and cyberbullying

The bill would include more instruction for high school students on those same topics.

Ritchie says the goal is to better alert students and parents on how to recognize threats on the internet.

“We should all do our part to make sure that we are getting material into the hands of parents and teachers and students, that, you know, is something does come up, they are aware of it, and they don’t fall prey to what happened to these other two young folks,” said Ritchie.

Now Ritchie is looking for support in the Assembly to sponsor the bill there. It’ll likely get support from north country Assemblyman Mark Walczyk (R. - 116th District), who tells 7 News he’s happy to help, especially with this bill.

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