Kentucky lawmaker proposes more suicide awareness for school teachers

A Kentucky lawmaker says we can do more when it comes to educating ourselves about suicide, and warning signs, especially in schools.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Kentucky State Representative Regina Bunch has spent more than 25 years in education. Now, the Southeast Kentucky Republican is looking to provide educators with more knowledge with which to stem the increase in teen suicides.

“I think it is something that people are concerned about,” explained Rep. Bunch. “We're losing our children and there's nothing more valuable."

The statistics will rattle you to your core. Per the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Kentuckians ages 10 to 34 and Kentuckians are 3 times more likely to die from suicide than homicide.

The Kentucky Incentives for Prevention 2016 study found that 15 percent of high school sophomores in Kentucky have thought about suicide and 12 percent have made a plan to commit suicide.

The 82nd District Representative, Bunch, filed BR 91 which would require Kentucky middle and high school teachers and school administrators undergo two hours of focused training to learn warning signs, risk factors, and resources regarding teen suicide. They would also be required to take part in that training every two years.

Currently, Kentucky law mandates teachers study the issue every two years which Representative Bunch feels is inadequate to address the escalating problem.

The proposed legislation is in its very early stages but the Rep. Bunch is confident that her party's leadership is willing to discuss what she described as a "taboo subject" when the General Assembly returns to Frankfort early next year.

"I think that suicide prevention needs to be in the forefront,” she insisted. “We need to be thinking about it. We need to be clued in on knowing the risk factors and I want to establish tools and a pathway for teachers to feel confident and looking at the students and making these assessments and going to knowing where to turn to next for treatment."

Centerstone, formerly Seven Counties Services, offers emergency crisis help for children and adults. The hotline for issues connected to children is (502) 589-8070. The hotline for issues connected to adults is (502) 589-4313.

Officials with Cornerstone say they have yet to see the proposal so they have taken no stance on this Representative Bunch's plan.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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