The Committee on Education will decide the future of a bill that would require all faculty in Arizona schools to go through suicide prevention training.

"The bill this year would require the training once every three years as opposed to every year. It does require it for all school personnel for grades 6 through 12," Sen. Sean Bowie explained.

The bill failed last year but Sen. Bowie said he made changes and now has a bipartisan coalition that's supporting it.

"I want to get a minimum standard in place at the state levels and then encourage school boards and local districts to learn and make this a priority for their teachers and their educators," Bowie said.

Parents for Suicide Prevention formed and is trying to educate the public about SB 1468, also known as the Mitch Warnock Act.

"We have training as teachers, what to look for in someone with a physical abuse and other sorts of abuse but when it comes to self-abuse, when it comes to cutting, those students who are having suicidal thoughts, we have no training in regards to that," Mitch's mother, Lorie Warnock said.

Lorie and her husband, Tim, also happen to be teachers.

"It's scary to think that we're teachers. We're on the front lines and we've never received an iota of training and that really has to change," Lorie said.

"We're strong people. You don't get through this without being strong, but we need some help here. We need people engaged in the political process to force these people in position to do the right thing," Tim added.

Other parents who have lost a child to suicide are also pushing for this bill.

"It can happen to anybody and that's my message too--don't take your kids for granted for a second. At home you have the communication open and going and let's train our teachers and the people that are with our kids to recognize the signs," Nora Kinney said.

Kinney's son, Preston, killed himself when he was 13.

"I want to get education out there. I want awareness brought. My son is gone but if we can save one life, that's what's important," said Marijon Anderson, whose son committed suicide in 2017.

The suicide prevention training outlined in SB 1468 would require all faculty members--teachers, coaches, librarians, custodians, etc.--to take the training at least once every three years. They would learn about the warning signs, how to talk to students and how to help them if they're feeling depressed or suicidal.

"There are teachers and educators who want to help, they just don't know how and this training will hopefully give them the tools they need to be helpful when a young person is having a difficult time," Bowie said.

"We're constantly told out in our world, 'If you see something, say something.' And what we're arguing for is, help us see what it is that we need to see and who it is we need to say something to so that we can be on top of it," Lorie said.

The Committee on Education meeting starts on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.


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