Expanded school suicide training a positive step

New legislation from the state will mean expanded training to more Kenai Peninsula Borough School District teachers who interact with at-risk youth and that's a plus for our community.

Senate Bill 137 requires all KPBSD personnel receive annual suicide prevention training which is especially important considering 8.7 percent of Alaska high school students have attempted suicide at least once, according to a 2011 survey.

Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the country, particularly among teens, young men and Alaska Natives.

Making a difference starts with education and discussion. When youth are made aware of depression's signs and root causes they can better guard themselves, help those who may succumb and further eliminate the stigma surrounding the subject. The school district should also seek to beef up non-personal resources on the subject such as access to online information -- www.crisischat.org -- printed literature and knowledge of suicide and crisis hotlines -- 1-800-SUICIDE, or 1-800-273-TALK.

We would also encourage teachers who receive this training to not just keep it to themselves -- share what you know with neighbors and friends. The more we can talk about the subject the better we are defended against it.

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