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Arizona public schools chief declares September Suicide Prevention Month

(Facebook Photo/American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-Arizona Chapter)

PHOENIX — The Arizona public schools chief has declared September Suicide Prevention Month.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said she wants to prevent more teens from taking their own lives.

“We know that this oftentimes is due to an underlying mental health issue, so we are taking this issue very seriously and want to bring more awareness,” Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also reported last year the suicide rate for young people ages 10-19 increased by 56% between 2007 and 2016.

“These numbers are very alarming to me,” Hoffman said.

Throughout the month of September, the Arizona Department of Education will be spreading the word about the suicide prevention resources already available.

Among the resources is a free training for teachers that educates them on the warning signs and what to do if a teen is experiencing a mental health crisis.

The department will also be encouraging schools to have the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Arizona Teen Lifeline on the back of student ID cards.

“We want to give [students] the option to call trained professionals to receive the help that they need,” Hoffman said, adding that this is “one more safety net that we can put in place to help keep our youth safe.”

At least five school districts in Pinal County have added the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to the back of their student ID cards. They’ve all gotten the phone number added at no cost.

The Tempe Union High School District also added the Teen Lifeline phone number to the back of student ID cards at all of their high schools two years ago.

Hoffman said she would support passing a bill during the next legislative session to mandate all public schools do the same.

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