School Suicide Awareness Bill Moves Forward in Kansas

School Suicide Awareness Bill Moves Forward in Kansas
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A legislative bill designed to increase suicide prevention in schools is moving forward in Kansas. It passed last week in the house by an overwhelming margin.

You may not be able to tell what a student is feeling just seeing them walking down the hall but soon Kansas teachers could have the training to do just that.

“If we could help even 1 child I think it’s going to be good for us to do here at school,” says Galena High School principal Toby Vancleave.

Legislation that would require school staff to undergo suicide awareness and prevention training is close to passing. Officials say the training would take just 2 hours, a small price to pay to ensure the safety of students.

“If we at least require the time for them to do that and it prevents 1 death, it will be worth it. So that’s kind of how the house took that stance,” says Kansas Representative Adam Lusker.

It’s a mandate that the Galena School District says will hold others accountable

“It will ensure that all districts are complying with that and training their staff to try and help the students in their school district,” says Vancleave.

The Centers for Disease Control says suicide is on the rise with high schoolers and that 1 in 12 have attempted suicide. Since teachers interact with kids so often, school officials say this could be an extra layer of protection.
“The way they act at school, the way they interact with their teachers is much different than the way they interact with their parents. So sometimes parents maybe wouldn’t see some of the things that a teacher would see when the kids are with their peer groups,” says Vancleave.

“When teachers are around them 8 hours a day they can realize what tendencies they have and what problems they may be facing so it’s good for them to be able to identify those signs,” adds Lusker.

The senate will have a second look at the bill before it can head to the governor’s desk. A similar bill is moving forward in Missouri.

The Jason Flatt Foundation has been promoting the legislation nationwide. School districts can receive grants from the organization to pay for the cost of training.