Lawmakers push for educators to partake in suicide prevention training

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Teens struggling with depression could soon get help from their teachers.

Lawmakers on both sides of the state line want to require all educators to get suicide prevention training.

The Kansas lawmaker who introduced this bill, Greg Smith, is a teacher at Shawnee Mission West, and he knows all too well the rollercoaster of emotions teens deal with on a daily basis.

With suicide being a leading cause of death amongst our youth, he believes mandatory training for all teachers could help save young lives.

Right now suicide is the second leading cause of death among those between the ages of 10 and 24.

While females are three times more likely to attempt suicide, males are four times more likely to die from suicide.

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention says four out five people give clear warning signs before they attempt to take their own life. If educators know these warning signs, they can help that teen get the help he or she needs.

"Suicidal signs are very easy to misinterpret," District 21 representative Greg Smith said. "A person that is thinking about suicide can be a very happy, cheerful person and you just don't realize what's going on inside and so sometime you have to look for real subtle things."

The bill introduced in Kansas would require all licensed teachers and principals to get at least two hours of suicide prevention training every year.

The bill introduced in Missouri by Kansas City Representative Randy Dunn does not specify how many hours of training, just that all teachers would have to complete annual training on this topic.

Both bills would release teachers from liability should a student should take their own life.

"I think that teachers have a bit more intuition to what's going on with kids," Smith said. "We deal with them everyday. Sometimes we see them more than their parents do, but I don't know that every teacher is trained to a level where they may recognize it."

Both bills are currently in committees but have a lot of support FOX 4 will continue to provide updates if lawmakers pass the bills this legislative session.

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