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NMUSD Implements Suicide Prevention Policies

Suicide is Preventable and We’re Educating our School Community

Holding Hands

Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) places strong value in the social,      emotional   and behavioral health of our students. NMUSD has systems of support to assist students in navigating through a variety of needs, including suicide prevention.

 

The district has staff dedicated to the social, emotional and behavioral health of our students that follow best practices when providing systems of support, trainings, strategies, and resources to staff, students and families in support of mental health wellness.

 

With the passage of California Assembly Bill 2246, a bill that requires school districts to implement suicide prevention policies, NMUSD took immediate steps to formalize its Suicide Prevention Program. A Suicide Prevention Task Force was created to jointly develop Board Policy 5141 and Administrative Regulation 5141, which address suicide prevention. The Task Force included district mental health professionals, school administrators, parents, students, local hospital and health professionals and suicide prevention experts. The Task Force has enhanced the development and collaboration of key community stakeholders. 

 

BP 5141 and AR 5141 are comprehensive and ambitious attempt to address suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention strategies and practices. The policy includes training for all grade level staff, and education for students and parents.  

 

“We strongly believe that suicide is preventable and our focus is on early detection, intervention, and referral,” said Dr. Phil D’Agostino, Director of Student and Community Services.

 

All middle and high school staff have completed an online training course focused on recognizing suicide risk factors and how to best provide students with the support and services they need. Staff was trained on best practices to screen, assess and refer a student at risk for suicide. Our district also plans to collaborate with student leadership advisory to jointly develop a suicide prevention program for students, including those in elementary. 

 

Though the law does not require parent education, NMUSD is committed to support the whole child through training and awareness for parents. Multiple Suicide Prevention Parent seminars were held in fall 2017 to educate parents on common myths, risk factors and warning signs, as well as some protective factors, prevention, early detection, referral and resources.

 

“Our goal is for our entire school community to know the signs of suicide, know best practices for early intervention, know resources that are available, and be mindful, accepting and compassionate about this difficult subject,” said Dr. D’Agostino.

 

One challenge in the district’s approach to suicide prevention is the role that staff and parents play. Unfortunately, sometimes parents are in denial about their children’s mental health needs, and in some cases parents and/or guardians may be a contributing factor to the decompensation of student’s emotional stability. This is a sensitive and sometimes difficult relationship to manage as some parents’ approach to suicide prevention conflicts with the district’s. Parents can support and enhance student’s progress by working collaboratively with the school when this situation arises. 

 

NMUSD is going above and beyond the law in its approach to suicide prevention strategies and education. Suicide prevention is an ongoing, collaborative process and strong participation from the entire school community is crucial to the well-being of our students. For more information, please visit the Student Intervention Webpage.