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All Board and Workshop meetings are held at the Education Center - 2229 East Buck Road, Pennsburg.

Suicide Prevention & Awareness

According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families and communities. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It was responsible for more than 47,000 deaths in 2017.

While suicide can affect an individual of any age, it is a problem that affects many young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people 10 to 34 years of age.

If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, please tell a school administrator, counselor, teacher, parent or trusted adult.

Do NOT keep this a secret, ask for help!

 

If you are in need of IMMEDIATE help:

Call 9-1-1 or go to your local area hospital emergency department

Call Mobile Crisis Support: 1-855-634-HOPE (4673)

Call the Peer Support Talk Line: 855-715-8255
(available daily 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Call the Teen Talk Line: 866-825-5856 or text 215-703-8411

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-442-4673

Suicide Prevention Resources

Upper Perk Resources

  • Student Assistance Program (SAP): SAP is comprised of teachers, guidance counselors, the school nurse, a building administrator, and outside consultants. The team works together to help students who are "at-risk." All SAP team members have received training that enables them to identify and intervene with students who are "at-risk" for substance abuse, depression, suicide, eating disorders, and/or other emotional concerns. "At-risk" students can be referred to the SAP team by teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, classmates, or parents. Students are also able to refer themselves.
  • School Counselors: All counselors have been trained in conducting a risk assessment for students who are either brought to their attention or who display suicide warning signs. The result of that assessment leads to connection to other interventions.
    • UPHS:
      • Angela Traub (last names A-G), atraub@upsd.org, 215-541-7120
      • John Gunning (last names H-N), jgunning@upsd.org, 215-541-7121
      • Leanne LeGendre (last names O-Z), lleGendre@upsd.org, 215-541-7122
      • Kimberly Kelly (last names A-Z), kkelly@upsd.org, 215-541-7127
    • UPMS:
      • Tracy James (last names A-K), tjames@upsd.org, 215-541-7416
      • Theresa Schlatterer (last names L-Z), tschlatterer@upsd.org, 215-541-7480
    • UP4&5: Susan Kenna, skenna@upsd.org, 215-541-3426
    • Hereford: Jeffrey Bibus, jbibus@upsd.org, 215-541-3409
    • Marlborough: Karen Shetler, kshetler@upsd.org, 215-541-7219
  • Safe to Say Something (S2SS):  S2SS is a life-saving and life-changing school safety program that teaches students, educators, parents, and community members how to anonymously report this information through the S2SS app, website, or 24/7 Crisis Center Hotline. 
  • QPR Training: QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer – the three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone for help. Many of our faculty and staff have participated in this training and we will continue to expand the availability of QPR trainings for our students, families and community.  The next local QPR training is scheduled for Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at the Upper Perk Library. Check out an informational flyer, and if interested, please visit https://upperperkqpr.eventbrite.com to register.  

Suicide Warning Signs

These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has recently increased in frequency or intensity, and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Suddenly happier and calmer, especially after a period of sadness
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Getting affairs in order, making arrangements
  • Preoccupation with death

How to Help Someone in Crisis

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:

  • Take it seriously.
  • Tell the person why you are concerned
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if he/she is suicidal
  • Do not try to argue someone out of suicide
  • Encourage the person to see professional help immediately
  • If it is a crisis, do not leave the person alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call Local Crisis Support the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, or 9-1-1
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional
  • Offer encouragement and support after the crisis

Suicide Myths & Facts

These myths of suicide stand in the way of providing assistance for those who are in danger. By removing the myths, those responsible for the care and education of young people will be more able to recognize those who are at risk and provide the help that is needed.

MYTH: Talking about suicide or asking someone if they feel suicidal will encourage suicide attempts.
FACT: Talking about suicide provides the opportunity for communication. Fears that are shared are more likely to diminish. The first step in encouraging a suicidal person to live comes from talking about those feelings That first step can be the simple inquiry about whether or not the person is intending to end their life. However, talking about suicide should be carefully managed.

MYTH: Young people who talk about suicide never attempt or complete suicide.
FACT: Talking about suicide can be a plea for help and it can be a late sign in the progression towards a suicide attempt. Those who are most at risk will show other signs apart from talking about suicide. If you have concerns about a young person who talks about suicide:

  • Encourage him/her to talk further and help them to find appropriate counseling assistance.
  • Ask if the person are thinking about making a suicide attempt.
  • Ask if the person has a plan.
  • Think about the completeness of the plan and how dangerous it is. All suicidal intentions are serious and must be acknowledged as such.
  • Encourage the young person to develop a personal safety plan. This can include time spent with others, check-in points with significant adults/ plans for the future.

MYTH: Attempted or completed suicides happen without warning.
FACT: The survivors of a suicide often say that the intention was hidden from them. It is more likely that the intention was just not recognized. These warning signs include:

  • The recent suicide, or death by other means, of a friend or relative.
  • Previous suicide attempts.
  • Preoccupation with death or expressing suicidal thoughts.
  • Depression, conduct disorder and problems with adjustment such as substance abuse, particularly when two or more of these are present.
  • Giving away possessions, making a will or other final arrangements.
  • Major changes in sleep patterns - too much or too little.
  • Sudden changes in eating habits, losing or gaining weight.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family or other major changes.
  • Dropping out of group activities.
  • Personality changes such as nervousness, anger, impulsive or reckless behavior, or apathy about appearance or health.
  • Frequent irritability or unexplained crying.
  • Lingering expressions of unworthiness or failure.
  • Lack of interest in the future.
  • A sudden lifting of spirits, when there have been other indicators, may point to a decision to end the pain of life through suicide.

MYTH: If a person attempts suicide and survives, they will never make a further attempt.
FACT: A suicide attempt is regarded as an indicator of further attempts. It is likely that the level of danger will increase with each further suicide attempt.

MYTH: Once a person is intent on suicide, there is no way of stopping them.
FACT: Suicides can be prevented. People can be helped. Suicidal crises can be relatively short-lived. Suicide is a permanent solution to what is usually a temporary problem. Immediate practical help such as staying with the person, encouraging them to talk and helping them build plans for the future, can avert the intention to attempt or complete suicide. Such immediate help is valuable at a time of crisis, but appropriate counselling will then be required.

MYTH: People who threaten suicide are just seeking attention.
FACT: All suicide attempts must be treated as though the person has the intent to die. Do not dismiss a suicide attempt as simply being an attention-gaining device. It is likely that the young person has tried to gain attention and, therefore, this attention is needed. The attention that they get may well save their lives.

MYTH: Suicide is hereditary.
FACT: Although suicide can be over-represented in families, it is attempts not genetically inherited. Members of families share the same emotional environment, and the completed suicide of one family member may well raise the awareness of suicide as an option for other family members.

MYTH: Depression and self-destructive behavior are rare in young people.
FACT: Both forms of behavior are common in adolescents. Depression may manifest itself in ways which are different from its manifestation in adults but it is prevalent in children and adolescents. Self-destructive behavior is most likely to be shown for the first time in adolescence and its incidence is on the rise.

MYTH: All suicidal young people are depressed.
FACT: While depression is a contributory factor in most suicides, it need not be present for suicide to be attempted or completed .

MYTH: Once a young person is suicidal, they will be suicidal forever.
FACT: Most young people who are considering suicide will only be that way for a limited period of their lives. Given proper assistance and support, they will probably recover and continue to lead meaningful and happy lives unhindered by suicidal concerns.

MYTH: The only effective intervention for suicide comes from professional psychotherapists with extensive experience in the area.
FACT: All people who interact with suicidal adolescents can help them by way of emotional support and encouragement. Psychotherapeutic interventions also rely heavily on family, and friends providing a network of support.

MYTH: Break-ups in relationships happen so frequently, they do not cause suicide.
FACT: Suicide can be precipitated by the loss of a relationship.

MYTH: Suicide is much more common in young people from higher (or lower) socioeconomic status (SES) areas.
FACT: The causes of suicidal behavior cut across SES boundaries. While the literature in the area is incomplete, there is no definitive link between SES and suicide. This does not preclude localized tendencies nor trends in a population during a certain period of time

MYTH: Every death is preventable.
FACT: No matter how well intentioned, alert and diligent people's efforts may be, there is no way of preventing all suicides from occurring.

General Suicide Prevention Resources

Crisis Text Line: a free 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line trains volunteers to support people in crisis. With over 54 million messages processed to date, we’re growing quickly, but so is the need.

Call the Children's Mobile Crisis Support: 888-435-7414

Call the Peer Support Talk Line: 855-715-8255
(available daily 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Call the Teen Talk Line: 866-85-5856 or text 215-703-8411

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-442-4673

Click here for the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Resource Guide.

District Policy 819: Suicide Awareness, Prevention and Response

The District Policy on Suicide Awareness, Prevention and Response (819) can be viewed in its entirety on our BoardDocs site.

Purpose

The Board is committed to protecting the health, safety and welfare of its students and school community. This policy supports federal, state and local efforts to provide education on youth suicide awareness and prevention; establish methods of prevention, intervention, and response to suicide or suicide attempt; and to promote access to suicide awareness and prevention resources.[1][2][3][5][18]

Authority

In compliance with state law and regulations, and in support of the district's suicide prevention measures, information received in confidence from a student may be revealed to the student's parents/guardians, the building principal or other appropriate authority when the health, welfare or safety of the student or any other person is deemed to be at risk.[7][8][9]

Guidelines

The district shall utilize a multifaceted approach to suicide prevention which integrates school and community-based supports.

The district shall notify district employees, students and parents/guardians of this policy and shall post the policy on the district’s website.[1]

SUICIDE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION EDUCATION [1]

Protocols for Administration of Student Education

Students shall receive age-appropriate education on the importance of safe and healthy choices, coping strategies, how to recognize risk factors and warning signs, as well as help-seeking strategies for self or others including how to engage school resources and refer friends for help.

Protocols for Administration of Employee Education

All district employees, including but not limited to secretaries, coaches, bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers, shall receive information regarding risk factors, warning signs, response procedures, referrals, and resources regarding youth suicide prevention.

As part of the district's professional development plan, professional educators and support staff in school buildings serving students in grades Kindergarten (K) through twelve (12) shall participate in four (4) hours of youth suicide awareness and prevention training every five (5) years.[1][6][16][17]

Additional professional development in risk assessment and crisis intervention shall be provided to guidance counselors, district mental health professionals and school nurses.

Resources for Parents/Guardians

The district shall provide parents/guardians with resources including, but not limited to, health promotion and suicide risk, including characteristics and warning signs; and information about local behavioral health resources.

METHODS OF PREVENTION [1]

The methods of prevention utilized by the district include, but are not limited to, early identification and support for students at risk; education for students, staff and parents/guardians; and delegation of responsibility for planning and coordination of suicide prevention efforts.

Early Identification Procedures

Early identification of individuals with suicidal risk factors or of individuals exhibiting warning signs, is crucial to the district's suicide prevention efforts. To promote awareness, district employees, students and parents/guardians should be educated about suicidal risk factors and warning signs.

Risk factors refer to personal or environmental characteristics that are associated with suicide such as:

  • Depression, Self-Injury.
  • Loneliness/Social alienation/isolation/lack of belonging.
  • Hopelessness/Low self-esteem.
  • Disciplinary or legal problems.
  • Exposure to peer suicide.
  • Family history of suicide or suicidal behavior.
  • Family mental health problems.

Warning signs are indications that someone may be in danger of suicide, either immediately or in the near future. Warning signs such as:

  • Expressions such as hopelessness, rage, anger, seeking revenge, feeling trapped, anxiety, agitation, no reason to live or sense of purpose.
  • Recklessness or risky behavior.
  • Increased alcohol or drug use.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, or society.
  • Dramatic mood changes.

Referral Procedures

Any district employee who suspects or has an indication that a student may be contemplating suicide, shall refer the student immediately to the principal or designee for further assessment and intervention.

Documentation

The principal or designee shall document in the form of a risk assessment the reasons for referral, including specific warning signs and risk factors identified as indications that the student may be at risk.

METHODS OF INTERVENTION [1]

The methods of intervention utilized by the district include, but are not limited to, responding to suicide threats, suicide attempts in school, suicide attempts outside of school, and completed suicide. Suicide intervention procedures shall address the development of an emotional or mental health safety plan for students identified as being at increased risk of suicide.

Procedures for Students at Risk

A district-approved risk assessment instrument may be used by trained staff such as principals, counselors, psychologists, or social workers.

Parents/Guardians of a student identified as being at risk of suicide shall be notified by the school. If the school suspects that the student’s risk status is the result of abuse or neglect, school staff shall immediately notify Children and Youth Services.[5]

The principal or designee shall identify mental health service providers to whom students can be referred for further assessment and assistance.

Mental health service providers – may include, but not be limited to, hospital emergency departments, community mental health centers, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and primary care providers.

The district shall create an emotional or mental health safety plan to support a student and the student's family if the student has been identified as being at increased risk of suicide.

Students With Disabilities

For students with disabilities who are identified as being at risk for suicide or who attempt suicide, the appropriate team shall be notified and shall address the student’s needs in accordance with applicable law, regulations and Board policy.[3][10][11][12][13]

If a student is identified as being at risk for suicide or attempts suicide and the student may require special education services or accommodations, the Director of Special Education shall be notified and shall take action to address the student’s needs in accordance with applicable law, regulations and Board policy.[3][10][11][12][13]

Documentation

The district shall document, in the form of the risk assessment, observations, recommendations and actions conducted throughout the intervention and assessment process, including verbal and written communications with students, parents/guardians and mental health service providers.

The Superintendent or designee shall develop administrative regulations providing recommended guidelines for responding to a suicide threat.

METHODS OF RESPONSE TO SUICIDE OR SUICIDE ATTEMPT [1]

The methods of response to a suicide or a suicide attempt utilized by the district include, but are not limited to:

  1. Notification of the school crisis response/crisis intervention team.
  2. Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of each crisis response team member.
  3. Notifying students, employees and parents/guardians.
  4. Working with families.
  5. Responding appropriately to the media.
  6. Collaborating with community providers.

The Superintendent or designee shall develop administrative regulations with recommended guidelines for responding to a suicidal act or attempt on school grounds or during a school-sponsored event.

Re-Entry Procedures

A student’s excusal from school attendance after a mental health crisis and the student’s return to school shall be consistent with state and federal laws and regulations.[3][10][11][12][14][15]

A district-employed mental health professional and the building principal shall meet with the parents/guardians of a student returning to school after a mental health crisis, and, if appropriate, meet with the student to discuss re-entry and applicable next steps to ensure the student's readiness to return to school.

When authorized by the student’s parent/guardian, the designated district employee shall communicate with the appropriate outside mental health care providers.

The designated district employee will periodically check in, as needed, with the student to facilitate the transition back into the school community and address any concerns.

Re-entry of a student with a disability requires coordination with the appropriate team to address the student’s needs in accordance with applicable law, regulations and Board policy.[3][10][11][12][13]

REPORT PROCEDURES [1]

Effective documentation assists in preserving the safety of the student and ensuring communication among school staff, parents/guardians and mental health service providers.

As stated in this policy, district employees shall be responsible for effective documentation of incidents involving suicide prevention, intervention and response.

The Director of Pupil Services shall be provided with a copy of all reports and documentation regarding the at-risk student and apprise the Superintendent as necessary.