Mandatory Suicide Training for Teachers Moves Forward in Senate - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Mandatory Suicide Training for Teachers Moves Forward in Senate

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By Alex Schuman


A little more than a year ago two Johnston Middle School students committed suicide a day apart in the same weekend.  One of those students was the school principal's son Cameron Carico

"We knew there was some depression and some things that he was dealing with, but didn't ever see the true signs," Brian Carico, Johnston Middle School principal.

Carico calls depression and mental illness a silent epidemic that plagues our schools. And his cure for this problem is to get kids talking and for teachers to learn how to start those conversations.

"That's the part that a lot of people have difficulty with is that actual question and then what do you do when the answer is, 'Yes,'" he said.

Carico is combining his roles as a father and principal to help push through Senate File 216, which made it out of the Senate Education Subcommittee Monday afternoon.

The bill creates a mandatory training program for teachers when they go to renew their license. For two hours, they would learn about suicide prevention and trauma-informed care.

9th grade teacher Abbey Moomaw believes teachers can be key to catching signs of suicide.

"We see these kids everyday, and you notice things," she said.

Moomaw's taken part in a version of the program being proposed and thinks the cost in time and money is worth the trouble. 

"It's not a lot of time, but if it's enough time for me to just be able to sit and reflect and go, 'Oh yeah, I've seen this or this is something I've been aware of in this person,'" she said. "If it's enough to help them maybe save their life - I think it's worth it."

Opponents to this bill have concerns about where the money would come from and the time it would take.  Many of the details regarding the training would decided by a task force created by the bill.

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