Adding suicide prevention to required class for Iowa high schoolers

DES MOINES — Before graduating, all Iowa high schoolers have to take a “health class” that covers topics like nutrition, disease prevention and substance abuse. A bill that’s cleared a Senate committee would direct Iowa high schools to add “mental health awareness, coping skills and suicide prevention” to that list for classroom discussion.

Senate President Charles Schneider, a Republican from West Des Moines, is the bill’s sponsor.

“Schools are really the front lines for a lot of mental health issues today. That’s what school board members tell me. That’s what teachers tell me. My wife has seen that. She used to be a behavioral interventionist at Stilwell Junior High in West Des Moines. It is an important issue,” Schneider told Radio Iowa. “This is one more step we can do to try and tackle mental health issues head on.”

The bill is now eligible for debate in the senate. A similar bill has been introduced in the Iowa House.