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East Valley, AZ: After rash of students suicides, bill proposed to require teacher training

Feb 4, 2018, Arizona, East Valley Tribune: Bill would require mandatory training for suicide prevention Alarmed by the rash of teens who took their lives last year in multiple East Valley school districts, state Sen. Sean Bowie has introduced a bill requiring suicide-prevention training for all teachers and staff. Bowie, whose district includes parts of Chandler, Tempe and Mesa, wants two hours of training in the 2019-2020 school year in all school districts and charter schools for all “counselors, teachers, principals and other school personnel who work with pupils in grades six through 12.”… “This is not just a local problem or a state problem,” he added. “This is a national problem.” Warnock agrees. “I am a teacher as well as being Mitch Warnock’s mom,” she said. “What troubles me beyond belief is that in my 26 years of educating students, I have never been trained in identifying students at risk for depression, self harm or suicide. … Mesa Public Schools spokeswoman Heidi Hurst said her district schools have designated crisis teams trained in suicide prevention trained at a district level. They in turn train their respective schools staff on suicide prevention techniques. "Additionally at high schools, suicide prevention is an active topic of conversation and awareness," Hurst said, noting a teen hotline is now on all students' IDs. Currently, nine states require annual suicide-prevention training for school personnel and another 16 also mandate it but don’t specify whether it must be done annually. Such training is an annual requirement in Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. The other 16 that mandate it but don’t specify whether it must be annual are Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. … “Guidance counselors tell me that 10 years ago, 90 percent of the issues they saw involved traditional advising, schedules and such and only 10 percent involved social or emotional issues,” Bowie said, adding: “Now, that’s reversed and 90 percent of what they see are students with emotional and social problems.” Those problems range from issues related to social media, such as cyber bullying, and other pressures that make it difficult for some teens to cope. “Guidance counselors are not equipped to deal with social and emotional issues,” Bowie said.

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