After Son’s Suicide, Local Coach Pushes Prevention Training

By: Matt Howerton Email
By: Matt Howerton Email
A Central Texas teen’s suicide shocked both his school and family last year, but now his father is pushing for better suicide prevention programs in the state

Jonathan Childers (Courtesy photo)

FAIRFIELD (April 23, 2014 Following his son’s suicide, a Fairfield coach wants new legislation to be passed implementing better suicide prevention training for teachers and educators statewide.

In August of last year, Fairfield ISD was shocked when Jonathan Childers, 15, took his own life in his home.

His father Kevin Childers, a coach and teacher for the district, is now doing whatever he can to prevent a similar tragedy from happening to somebody else.

“No school, no person, and no family should have to go through what we went through last August,” Childers said.

In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 460, which makes training relating to the detection and education of students at risk for suicide or other mental or emotional disorders mandatory for teachers statewide.

Childers applauds the bill but feels like it isn’t enough. The bill’s language only requires teachers to participate in such training once.

“It’s a great bill, but it’s a one shot program where if a teacher just does it, then they’re good. The symptoms and signs of youth suicide are constantly changing,” Childers said.

Childers wants to introduce the “Flatt Act-Texas, In Memory of Jonathan Childers” when the legislature reconvenes in January 2015.

The Flatt-Act has already been implemented in 12 states across the U.S., including Alaska, Arkansas, California, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Utah, South Carolina, and North Dakota.

Each state has their own version, however Childers says the bill he’s constructing with local legislators would implement a required 2 hours of suicide prevention training once a year for teachers and educators statewide.

Those standards have already been implemented at Fairfield ISD to which Childers says have made a huge impact.

“In the last six months we have had four confirmed interventions with students," Childers said.

"Multiply that with your larger areas and it could be tremendous."


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