Gov. Ducey signs bill on suicide prevention, requiring teacher training on spotting warning signs

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second highest leading cause of death among teens across the country. On Wednesday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill on suicide prevention, in hopes of tackling the problem.

Under the new law, teachers in grades six through 12 will be required to get training to identify warning signs in teens. It's been a lot of hard work for some Valley parents that have already lost their kids to suicide, but their hope of preventing this from happening to other families has kept them going.

"We tried something, in the depths of our grief, to give other parents and kids a gift of knowledge to avoid this," said Tim Warnock. He said he knows the Mitch Warnock Act won't bring back Mitch, his son who took his own life in 2016. Warnock, however, has been fighting for the legislation ever since, hoping that teachers trained to spot warning signs can prevent a future tragedy.

"High school teachers, coaches, it's just incredibly important that kids be connected with their school beyond their ranking in the class, grades, what their test scores are," said Warnock. He went on to say that if he could, he'd put so many more names on the bill, names of kids in the Valley lost to suicide since his own experience with his son.

"There were so many families that dug deep in their worst grief ever, and did something for other people," said Warnock.

Democrat State Senator Sean Bowie sponsored the legislation, and believes it's a step in the right direction towards reducing the Valley's problem. In 2017, 50 kids committed suicide.

The next challenge, however, may be Arizona's student-to-school counselor ratio, which is among the worst in the country. In Arizona, there are 905 students to one counselor, while the recommended ratio is 250 to one.

"The ratio being so high means that students aren't getting that one-on-one time, not getting that support," said State Sen. Bowie. "You have some schools with over 2,000 students who only have one or two counselors."

Gov. Ducey is calling for $6 million in his recommended budget for more school counselors, something that State Sen. Bowie says needs to be much higher.

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.