Ducey signs bill requiring teachers to undergo suicide prevention training
PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Wednesday that will require all of the state’s school faculty to complete suicide prevention training.
Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday that he planned to sign the bill.
“I normally don’t comment on legislation until it gets to my desk, but this is a subject that just is way too important,” he said.
“We’re seeing way too much of this among our youth and inside our school system.”
S.B. 1468, also known as the Mitch Warnock Act, will require the training for all faculty who work with students in grades 6-12, starting in the 2020-2021 school year.
Warnock was a student who died by suicide in 2016. His parents, both teachers, have pushed for the legislation to pass.
A similar bill was introduced in the state Legislature last year but failed to come to a vote.
The training required by the bill will include identifying the warning signs of suicidal behavior and implementing intervention and referral techniques.
Ducey said the state lost 50 youths to suicide in 2017.
“There are a lot of kids that are down, that are depressed, that are hurting themselves and taking their lives,” he said.
“So the Mitch Warnock Act is going to train teachers … how to deal with this, what the threat factors there are around dysfunction, in the family, trouble at home, the signs that young people give, so that we can help these kids and turn this around.”
The bill passed both the state House and Senate unanimously last week and was sent to Ducey’s desk on May 2.
Ducey said he also wants to increase the number of school counselors in the state to help improve students’ mental health.
His budget proposes $12 million that would go toward hiring 224 more counselors for Arizona schools.
“We need more counselors, and we also need teachers and educators to be aware of the warning signs inside the school,” he said.
“We want to try to address this from every angle possible.”