Back to the Classroom: Suicide prevention training for educators

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Is Getting A 3-digit Dial
Posted at 4:36 PM, Mar 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 19:26:28-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Students are heading back into the classroom for the first time in a year, Arizona's Medicaid program, AHCCCS said it going to be a new experience for everyone.

“I think it's going to take a while for the staff to sort out what's what. Again, we don't have a recipe for how to do that because we've never done this pandemic, back to school work before. We're walking right alongside educators and families and students as we adjust,“ said Kelli Donley Williams, suicide prevention specialist.

It's Donley Williams' job is to offer training to educators who work with students in grades 6 through 12 ---thanks to the Mitch Warnock Act---requiring schools to be trained in suicide prevention.

“We at AHCCCS reviewed many curricula nationally to determine which curriculum were held up to a sufficient level of being considered of best practice and evidence-based. Eight pieces of training were selected some of those were virtual some [and] there are several in Spanish,” she said.

She said general warning signs for educators to look out for are:

  • Self-harm
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Talking about suicide
  • Withdrawing from activities children usually enjoy

Donley Williams added with more attention on behavioral health she says AHCCCS training has helped.

While educators and students are walking into new territory, she said patience is key.

“None of us really understand what the next week is going to look like or what the next month is going to look like with this pandemic and we're trying our hardest. Whether you're a teacher in the classroom, or you're the child in the classroom, or you're the parent, I just think we all have to be really patient with each other and recognize that we're figuring this out," she said.