This plan will guide and assist teachers and staff members of the school district to respond in an organized and effective manner when crises or emergencies occur.
This plan is to be augmented with emergency procedures, rosters, and supplemental material developed at each school site within the district, which are to be tailored to meet the particular needs and requirements of that school.
Suicide is a frightening and serious problem. Nationwide, it is the third leading cause of death in young people ages 10-24. In Kansas, it is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-34 (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2016). Completed suicides are a traumatic event that affects the entire community. Questions of “why” and “what could we have done” always linger as students are remembered and mourned. The statistics for young people who “have attempted” or “considered suicide” is staggering. According to CDC National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of students in grades 9-12 in Kansas, 13.8% of students seriously considered attempting suicide in 2009, 10.9% made a plan, and 6.3% attempted suicide one or more times. Over 60% of students enrolled in USD 475 Geary County Schools are affiliated with Fort Riley Military Installation. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (2014), a large study in California found that adolescents with parents or siblings serving in the military are at increased risk for suicidal ideation, feeling sad or hopeless, and depression. These risks increase if the family members in the military are deployed. Being female, a racial/ethnic minority, and being older were also factors associated with higher levels of feeling sad or hopeless.
At the beginning of every school year, each staff member is required to complete a minimum of one hour of suicide prevention training. In addition to this process, it is recommended that schools also review the suicide prevention manual and steps for intervention. The building principal or building designee in conjunction with the school crisis team is responsible for:
- providing training for staff regarding warning signs and indicators of possible risk for suicide
- identifying and providing support for staff members who are comfortable and capable of intervening with an at-risk student
- insuring that classroom guidance lessons for prevention activities are scheduled as they become available
Although there is no way to predict behavior with 100% accuracy, we can review research from the American Association of Suicidology, National Association of School Psychologists, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the UCLA Mental Health Project for guidance on individual characteristics that compose “indicators of risk” for suicide.
- District Policy Implementation A district level suicide prevention coordinator shall be designated by the Superintendent. Each school principal will designate a school suicide prevention coordinator as a point of contact in each school.
- Staff Professional Development All staff will receive annual professional development on risk factors, warning signs, protective factors, response procedures, referrals, and resources regarding youth suicide.
- Youth Suicide Prevention programming
- Publication and Distribution The policy will be distributed annually and included in all student and teacher handbooks and on the school website.
When a student is identified as being potentially suicidal or having made a suicide attempt, they will be referred immediately to a school mental health professional, school nurse or administrator for further assessment. If there is not a mental health professional available, the school nurse or administrator/designee will fill this role until a mental health professional can be brought in.
- School staff will continuously supervise the student to ensure their safety.
- The principal and school suicide prevention coordinator will be made aware of the situation as soon as reasonably possible.
- Parent/Guardian will be notified and the school will assist with referral to community resources.
- Parent/Guardian will provide documentation from a mental health care provider that the student has undergone examination and that the student is no longer a danger to themselves or others.
When information has been received of a completed suicide the district will alert the Crisis Counseling Response Team and implement the Crisis Intervention Plan.