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One thousand I-SS teachers packed The Cove Church in Mooresville recently to build their knowledge of Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness. 

They were greeted with author and speaker Morris Morrison who charged them with doing “whatever it takes” to reach our youth. Following a motivational address that included lots of laughter and some tears, educators across the district took part in a training called “Talk Saves Lives,” a program presented by Betsy Rhodes of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Over the course of the morning, educators learned about trouble signs, risk factors, and how to help those who struggle with suicidal ideation. 

Superintendent Brady Johnson takes this topic very seriously.   

“Months ago, our school district convened a Suicide Prevention Task Force,” he said. “We have lost six I-SS students to suicide in the last two years. We are committed to understanding and discussing the mental health of our children. We begin the school year with an open mind and an open heart, and pledge to make sure that every child in our district has an advocate in the school building. Every child deserves a champion. Every child deserves to be heard and seen.” 

The Suicide Prevention Task Force, made up of educators, school counselors, parents and health care professionals, crafted a rollout that began today. Moving forward this school year, students will take part in advocacy time each week at every school in the district. 

The goal includes assisting students as they work to “take care of yourself and others” and promotes the idea of #TalkItOut.   

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention volunteer Susan Tolle stated, “Suicide prevention starts with every single one of us. The Iredell-Statesville Schools took a tremendous step forward by offering this education of warning signs and risk factors to 1,000 teachers and staff today. Training like this will help us all save lives and bring hope to those impacted by suicide. We are deeply grateful for this opportunity and hope other school systems will follow the ISS lead. If you are not aware of where to start or who to talk to, consider coming to our Central Piedmont Out of the Darkness Walk on October 5 in Statesville. Go to to register for free." 

Iredell-Statesville School District, which is the 17th largest district in North Carolina, has agreed to training every single I-SS employee through the partnership of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Superintendent Johnson said, “All 2,700 of our employees will attend this training. Whether you are a teacher, a bus driver or a school nutrition employee, we are all educators, and we are all charged with taking care of our students.”  

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