GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Breaking News

Latest Cape Ann News

September 24, 2013

Bill pushes for teachers' suicide prevention training

BOSTON — Brian Fernandes’ son, Nicholas, was 17 years old and three months away from graduating from high school when he killed himself.

Since his son’s death, Fernandes has made it his mission to remove the taboo on talking about suicide, and educate himself about preventing it. He wants teachers to do the same.

Fernandes is pressing for passage of a bill requiring public school teachers and administrators to insert some suicide prevention and awareness training into existing professional development programs. The bill, filed by New Bedford Democrat Rep. Antonio Cabral, does not dictate the type of training or the number of hours required.

Fernandes and Cabral said the goal is to start a conversation at schools about suicide and ways to prevent it.

“We need to start a conversation and it needs to be a very public conversation,” Fernandes told lawmakers on the Education Committee last week.

Nineteen states have passed laws requiring school-based suicide prevention training for teachers, students or both, according to Fernandes. Massachusetts and New Hampshire are the only New England states without a requirement, he said.

Most people who commit suicide suffer from mental illnesses, often depression, Fernandes said. “They suffer from a treatable illness, and they die from that treatable illness,” he said.

Yet, too many people are afraid to discuss it because of the stigmas surrounding mental illness, he said.

School personnel are in a unique position to observe a child’s social behavior, Fernandes said. Many of the teachers he has talked to say they want suicide prevention training, but administrators often think talking about it will encourage more attempts.

“Not talking about it is not helping,” said Fernandes, a small business owner from New Bedford.

Teachers need to be trained on what to look for, Fernandes said, adding “there are things they can do.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return