TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - As the topic of suicide sits on the national stage, Arizona lawmakers plan to tackle a bill that would make suicide prevention a requirement in schools across the state.
Senate Bill 1468 would require teachers and staff at public and charter schools to go through suicide prevention training every three years covering topics like identifying warning signs and intervening techniques.
State Senator Sean Bowie, who introduced the bill, said districts would have flexibility in terms of meeting the mandate.
School leaders could use a state guideline, work with a non-profit or develop training of their own.
Parents in support urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying while it won't solve the issue of suicide, it's a piece of the puzzle that could reduce the number of deaths.
In Pima County, the number of teen suicides is on the rise with an increase of 12 to 15 from 2017 to 2018, a 25 percent jump.
Parent Debra Ouellette's kids are grown and out of school. But she says this type of training would have provided an extra layer of comfort.
“It is a comfort because we can say all we want and do all we want, and sometimes the kids just don’t listen to us, but they will listen to their peers and their teachers," she said.
The bill was given a thumbs up by the state Senate and was passed last week by the House Education committee.
Thursday morning, March 27, it will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee before it can move forward.