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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

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.