Suicide Prevention. Colquitt County School System. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.“
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Colquitt County School System
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.“
---Dr. Leo Buscaglia
It takes time and courage to reach out to students on a personal level, but your interest can be a lifeline to a child in crisis.
Young people—especially those with emotional or family troubles—need support, and school can be a vital part of that support.
School may be the last positive social connection for young people who are isolated from their peers or who are dealing with family issues.
Acknowledging that suicide is a serious risk for young people is an important step in prevention.
The purpose of providing this information is to help teachers and staff understand
Maintaining a safe school environment is part of a school’s overall mission. Suicide prevention is consistent with other efforts to protect student safety, such as bullying prevention, preventing drug/alcohol abuse, fostering student connectedness with school and future success.Reasons Why Schools Should Address Suicide Prevention
Students mental health can affect their academic performance. Depression and other mental health issues can interfere with the ability to learn.Reasons Why Schools Should Address Suicide Prevention
A student suicide can significantly impact other students and the entire school community. Adolescents can be susceptible to suicide contagion (the copycat effect).Reasons Why Schools Should Address Suicide Prevention
School systems are not responsible for meeting every need of their students,but when the need directly affects learning, the school must meet the challenge.
From the Carnegie Task Force on EducationTeachers and Students Need Education on Preventing Suicide
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults (ages 15–24).
Click for more Health Survey Findings
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.“
-- Theodor Seuss Geisel
As a teacher or school staff member, you have day-to-day contact with many young people, some of whom have problems that could result in serious injury or even death by their own hand.
You are therefore well-positioned to observe students’ behavior and to act when you suspect that a student may be at risk of self-harm.
Your school administrators and counselors support your efforts to safeguard the health and safety of students.
Very few suicides, or suicide attempts, take place in schools. But many young people who are at risk of suicide attend school and exhibit warning signs that, if recognized and acted on, could prevent death or injury and reduce emotional suffering.
In a welcoming and tolerant school environment, students and staff are sensitive to others’
SituationsKnow the FACTS-Warning Signs of Suicide From: Society of Prevention of Teen Suicide
When you observe behavior that indicates that there is a problem—whether the student is acting out, withdrawing, committing destructive or aggressive acts toward him- or herself or others, or exhibiting a fixation with death or morbid themes—take note and take action.
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) parents are generally required to provide consent before school officials disclose personally identifiable information from students’ educational records. There are exceptions to FERPA’s parental consent rules, such as disclosures related to health and safety emergencies.FERPA
This provision in FERPA permits school officials to disclose information on students, without consent, to appropriate parties if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. When a student is believed to be suicidal, or has expressed suicidal thoughts, school officials may determine that a significant threat to the health or safety of the student exists and that such a disclosure to appropriate parties is warranted under this exception.
(U.S. Department of Education, 2010)FERPA
If a student, teacher, or staff member has concerns about a student’s feelings, actions, changes, threats, or situations, those concerns should be reported to the school counselor.
Any written or verbal threat of suicide or harm to others must be reported to an administrator or the school counselor.
Administrators must inform teachers, staff, and students that they should report any concerns about a student’s safety to administration or the counselor. A report will initiate a counselor’s contact with the student and his or her parents.
The counselor will speak with the student and assess the situation. It is not the role of the school counselor to assess the seriousness of the threat but whether, in fact, the threat was made.
Do not be afraid to ask a student if he or she has considered suicide or other self-destructive acts. Research has shown that asking someone if he or she has contemplated self-harm or suicide will not increase that person’s risk. Rather, studies have shown that a person in mental distress is often relieved that someone cares enough to inquire about the person’s well-being. Your concern can counter the person’s sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
Be Persistent:A student may feel threatened by your concern. The student may become upset or deny that he or she is having problems. Be consistent and firm, and make sure that the student gets the help that he or she may need.
Be Prepared to Act:Know what to do if you believe that a student is in danger of harming him- or herself. Follow the protocol and let the student know these are procedures in place to keep him or her safe.Before Help Arrives
Encourage the Student to Identify Other People Who Care and Can Help:
The student’s counselor should discuss with the student and parents what information should be disclosed to those who work closely with the student.
It is also important that the student's counselor gets consent to read the student's discharge plan and recommendations as well as to speak with the outside therapist. This helps the student by building a safety net for the return to school.Returning to School
The return to school requires individualized attention and regular follow up. If the attempt or threat isn't public knowledge, not everyone in the school needs to know the details around the student's absence.
The counselor can help the student decide what to say about the absence, and faculty and staff who have direct contact with the student, should be part of the safety net that monitors continuing risk.Returning to School
Keep an eye on the student's academic performance as well as her social interactions. If you see that she is isolating or being shunned by peers or is falling further behind in assignments you can follow up with the students and other teachers as well.
“Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.” -- Norman B. Rice
Promote a school culture that is inclusive and supports student diversity
Colquitt County Schools Crisis/Suicide Prevention Information. Available on the Administrators’ Toolbox: http://www.colquitt.k12.ga.us/Departments/HumanResources/AdministratorsToolbox/tabid/9252/Default.aspx