Suicide Prevention Training for Schools
In 2019, the Arizona State legislature passed ARS 15-120, known as the Mitch Warnock Act, mandating all public school staff be trained in suicide prevention. The statute states that AHCCCS will annually post approved suicide prevention training materials.
The law went into effect at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year and mandates that all school staff who interact with students in grades 6 through 12 must receive suicide prevention training at least once every three years. Per the statute, the training must include:
- Training in suicide prevention,
- Training to identify the warning signs of suicidal behavior in adolescents and teens, and
- Appropriate intervention and referral techniques.
AHCCCS, in coordination with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), have selected the following school suicide prevention training options for this school year, 2022-2023. School administrators can choose from these suicide prevention training materials as they work toward meeting the statute’s requirements.
- Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR).
- Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).
- Kognito At-Risk for Middle and High School Educators (available online and in Spanish).
- Youth Mental Health First Aid.
- Suicide Alertness for Everyone (safeTALK).
- ACT on FACTS (available online).
- More than Sad – Suicide Prevention Education for Teachers and other School Personnel.
- Be a Link! Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training.
Additionally, the Mitch Warnock Act stipulates that each school must provide its staff with information on its specific intervention and referral procedures. Jake’s Law requires that schools have a policy for behavioral health referrals and a process for obtaining parental consent, and post it on their website. The Arizona School Board Association has created a policy with assistance from AHCCCS and ADE to assist school districts with the statutory requirements for Jake’s Law. Once suicide prevention training is provided, school administrators shall provide staff with specific processes and procedures, outlined in their school policy, for crisis intervention and behavioral health referral. Once school staff have been trained in identifying the warning signs of suicidal behavior, it’s critical that they know the appropriate next steps to take per each schools unique process. School administrators should also provide information for local resources such as crisis line numbers. Information about the school’s referral process and important numbers should be displayed in common areas, such as a teacher lounge, as a constant reminder.
The methodology used to select these materials include the review of The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Suicide Prevention Toolkit for High Schools, review of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for additional gateway trainings, and review of articles addressing cultural considerations, particularly for tribal nations, in suicide prevention. This work was conducted by a third-party contractor.
AHCCCS, ADE and ADHS are currently evaluating additional suicide prevention training materials to exapand this list for the 2023-2024 school year. The updated list is scheduled to be posted here by January 2023. For submissions of curriculum for consideration, BHInSchools@azahcccs.gov.
The Arizona Department of Education provides suicide prevention training for school staff and community members. While the Arizona Department of Education will prioritize the training of school staff, ADE also offers training to community members across the state. If your school or district is interested in receiving training, please utilize the Google Form.
More resources for schools: