Suicide Prevention Discussion Feb 10 and Additional Resources
February 3, 2020
In the days following the tragic loss of a student in our school community, we want to continue to provide you resources and opportunities relative to suicide prevention and support. It is also seemed very important to share an overview of the districts’ belief that the mental health of our students is in crisis and our efforts to respond.
Community Meeting- Monday, February 10, 2020, at 7 p.m. at CCHS
The schools will be hosting a meeting for parents and others in the community on Monday, February 10, 2020, at 7 p.m. at Concord Carlisle High School in the Learning Commons. Members of the Riverside Trauma Center’s team and other school and local providers will be present to provide information about common reactions following a suicide and how adults can help youth cope. They will also provide information about suicide and mental illness in adolescents, including risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and will address attendees’ questions and concerns.
Attached are additional resources to support you and your children regarding self-care and relationships after loss. A third resource is found linked below from the Alliance of Hope: https://allianceofhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Children-Teens-and-Suicide_loss.pdf
The school-based counselors and staff are valued resources for you and your family. Ongoing monitoring following a suicide in the community is critical to the safety of all children. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the guidance and adjustment counselors in the schools.
Our Growing Concern and Our Approach
Stress and the mental health of our youth have been a growing concern. This concern has grown to such a critical level that it is a core initiative in the five-year strategic plan (Objective #2 of 4: “Establish and commit to ensuring student achievement through student well being”). Among the messages sent to date was my parent newsletter in October describing our level of commitment and concern: https://www.concordps.org/mental-health-youth/
Our concerns stem from ongoing data indicating a high level of need. Below is information on this concern as self-reported by our grade six through twelve students in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2018.
- Many students report behaviors related to significant stress:
- 14% have injured themselves on purpose in the past year
- 22% have felt so sad or hopeless almost every day that they stopped doing usual activities
- 12% have seriously considered suicide at some point in the past year (highest in 10thgrade at 15%)
- 7% have made a plan about how they would attempt suicide in the past year
- 3% said they have actually attempted suicide in the past year
- 12% are worried about someone at school who they think is thinking about self-injury or suicide
- 16% were told by a peer that the peer was thinking about self-injury or suicide
Below are the initiatives currently underway to decrease the school-related stress that students feel and to support our students in order to better cope with stress and foster well-being:
At each of our school sites, students and families have access to counselors and psychologists. These professionals support students through running lunch groups, providing support to classroom teachers, and coordinating with pediatricians and outside therapists.
All of our mental health professionals actively work together to coordinate efforts on the PreK – 12 Mental Health Team.
During the 2017-2018 school year, a PreK – 12 group of teachers and administrators worked together on the Health Committee to improve and expand our curriculum. Direct lessons on self-awareness, emotional regulation, mental health self-care, peer interactions, and positive decision making are delivered through PreK – 12 health classes and through our social-emotional curriculum (Open Circle at the elementary level, Homebase at the middle school level, and Advisory at the high school level).
At each school site, students have opportunities to learn a variety of coping strategies to develop mindfulness and manage technology use and stress.
Concord Middle School and Concord High School have begun to administer a social-emotional screening assessment (PEAR) to determine if individual students need support.
The Signs of Suicide screener will continue to be administered to all students at Concord Middle School.
Major efforts have been made to ease student transitions: from one school to another and one town to another. At Concord Middle School last school year, all the sixth graders began going to the Peabody building where the program of studies now includes a class, “Fundamentals,” to smooth the transition to middle school. Better coordination is occurring between Carlisle grade 8 families and Concord Carlisle High School. Finally, plans are well on the way to smooth the transition to high school for the current 8th graders; this new structure and classes are called, “The Ninth Grade Academy”.
Concord Middle School and Concord Carlisle have both engaged with Challenge Success over the last five years. Committees at both schools have put into place: homework-free weekends, coordination of exam schedules so that students don’t have too many at a time; and, review of the school schedules to allow for an improved pace to the school day. CCHS Principal Mastrullo’s blog of a year ago offers addition highlights.
We fully recognize that we are at the beginning of this journey and the need to partner with families and the community in these efforts. Please join us in this important journey.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent