A large part of suicide prevention is ensuring all members of our community are properly trained in suicide awareness and prevention. All staff should receive training (or a refresher) once a year on the policies, procedures, and best practices for intervening with students and/or staff at risk for suicide.
Comprehensive Health Curriculum
Our District provides a Comprehensive Health Curriculum for all students, K-12. In addition to the typical topics covered in health, our program includes Social/Emotional Learning and Healthy Identity Development. Both facets support a proactive approach to suicide prevention, supported by research.
The SEL and healthy identity development components include “We Have Skills,” “Second Step,” and “Welcoming Schools”. We also use more targeted supports for conflict resolution and self-regulation, such as “Kelso’s Choice” and “Zones of Regulation.”
The CDC has identified increasing connectedness as a major strategic direction for preventing suicidal behavior. The School Connectedness guide outlines how schools can increase a student’s feeling of connectedness through addressing core areas such as adult support, positive peer group membership, educational commitment, and school environment.
Sources of Strength
In addition, Bethel also uses Sources of Strength at all of our middle and High Schools. Sources is a strength-based, upstream suicide prevention program. Sources works to build resilience, increase connection, change unhealthy norms around help-seeking, break down codes of secrecy and silence, and teach healthy coping strategies to ultimately prevent the very onset of suicidality. Sources of Strength focuses on developing protective factors, using a model that is innovative, interactive, and strength-based. These protective factors help develop resilient individuals and communities. Sources utilizes the power of peer social networks to spread messages of Hope, Help, and Strength throughout entire communities. Sources of Strength is one of the most rigorously evaluated upstream suicide prevention programs in the world. Program outcomes have shown:
As an additional component of health identity development, our schools also have affinity groups for students. These are a support for our students who experience various identities, such as our Black Student Union, Latinos Unidos, Asian Student Union and Gay/Straight Alliance.
Coordinated District Response
When considering prevention and postvention, when a tragedy occurs at any of our district schools, we have a coordinated district response. The supports we provide help ensure that students who are experiencing suicidal ideation as a result of a tragedy have a host of resources available to them.
All staff are trained to use the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. We have differentiated forms. All staff are trained to ask the first two questions on the Columbia and are trained about what to do in response to students’ answers. Administrators and Counselors are trained to use the Columbia Screener. Mental Health Therapists at our Bethel Health Center are trained to use the long version of the screener.
It is important that Bethel staff have training to support students who may be expressing suicidal ideation. Especially important to note, talking about suicide with students does not increase their risk of suicide; rather, the ability to talk with students about suicidal ideation is shown to prevent suicide.
QPR QPR (Question, Persuade, Respond) is an innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training provided to all Bethel staff members. This training includes:
Columbia Protocol (Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale [C-SSRS])
All Bethel staff members are trained to use the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. We have two differentiated forms: one for all staff and one for administrators and counselors. All staff are trained to ask the first two questions on the Columbia and are trained about what to do in response to students’ answers.
Suicide Ideation Process
Our Administrators and Counselors are trained in our Suicide Ideation Process.
Bethel’s Flowchart delineates areas of responsibility in responding to student need. When a counselor or administrator fills out a Suicide Ideation Form in Dataport, the District Leads are notified. The District Leads read each Suicide Ideation Form and follow up as needed.
“High Risk” Groups
As an additional component of health identity development, our schools also have affinity groups for students. These are a support for our students who experience various identities, such as our Black Student Union, Latinos Unidos, and Gay/Straight Alliance.
School employees, with the exception of nurses and psychologists who are bound by HIPAA, are bound by laws of The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974; commonly known as FERPA. There are situations when confidentiality must NOT be maintained, however; if at any time, a student has shared information that indicates the student is in imminent risk of harm/danger to self or others, that information MUST BE shared. The details regarding the student can be discussed with those who need to intervene to keep the student safe. This is in compliance with the spirit of FERPA and HIPAA known as “minimum necessary disclosure.”
Bethel School District is prepared to provide postvention support in the event of a suicide attempt or completed suicide. Suicide Postvention has been defined as “the provision of crisis intervention, support, and assistance for those affected by a suicide” (American Association of Suicidology). Postvention
Includes the knowledge that youth and others associated with the event may be at increased risk for suicide. Families and communities can be especially sensitive after a suicide event. Bethel’s primary responsibility in these cases is to respond to the suicide attempt or completion in a manner which appropriately supports students and the school community impacted.
Connect Postvention Training
Administrators and Counselors are trained in the Connect Postvention Program, provided by LCPH, every three years. This training highlights best practices on how to coordinate a comprehensive and safe response to suicide and strategies for reducing the risk of contagion. Also included is the complexity of suicide-related grief, recommendations for funeral and memorial activities, suggestions on how to talk to survivors of suicide loss to promote their healing, best practices for safe messageing about suicide and identification of community resources to promote healing.
Adi’s Act Team
Brenda Martinek, Special Services Director
Brooke Cottle, Bethel Health Center Director
Sources of Strength District Team
Brooke Cottle, BHC Director
Misty Griesi, WHS Teacher
Tony Martins, KHS Teacher
Heidi Pullen, WHS 9th Grade Success Coach