We sit with the heaviness of the two Parkland students' deaths by suicide last week and Newtown parent Dr. Jeremy Richman's death by suicide yesterday.
 
As school leaders, we are tasked with creating environments to help students and all school community members make meaning of their lives. On March 19, Dr. Richman spoke in Florida on "The Neuroscience of Being Human." In the lecture, Dr. Richman offered the following:
 
"There's a great quote by AJ Heschel: 'Few are guilty, but all are responsible'...We need to engage. We need to recognize that yes, we are responsible for ourselves, for our loved ones and for our communities at large and for the health of our country."
 
Here are opportunities to engage in thoughtfulness about how to navigate the intersections of school violence, trauma, and suicide:
Learning Sessions
Trauma-Informed Suicide Prevention for Educators: Stories, Science, and Strategies
Next Week: Thursday, April 4
6-7 p.m. ET / 3-4 p.m. PT / 12-1 p.m. HT / 8-9 a.m. ChT

Join Leah Harris and Kelechi Ubozoh in exploring what a trauma-informed suicide prevention approach for educators might look like. This webinar will begin with the perspective of a young person with lived experience of suicidal thoughts. Presenters will identify common myths and misconceptions about students and suicide, and explore the vital importance of including students as partners in suicide prevention efforts. Examples of promising student-led initiatives, including peer-to-peer programs and school awareness campaigns, will be provided.

Learning Objectives. Participants will:
  • Identify several myths or stereotypes about suicide and students
  • Explore a framework for understanding suicide prevention through a trauma-informed and healing-centered lens
  • Understand the links between trauma, toxic stress, and suicide and the latest findings in neuroscience that cite connectedness as a vital protective factor
  • Describe the central values of trauma-informed practice and how to apply them to suicide prevention efforts in educational settings
  • Name examples of model student-led suicide prevention programs and campaigns
Open to participants of all experience and knowledge levels.
 


ABOUT THE PRESENTERS

Leah Harris, MA, is a mother, writer, and suicide attempt survivor who is passionate about trauma-informed and social justice-based approaches to suicide prevention. She serves on the consumer/survivor subcommittee of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and was a member of the Attempt Survivors Task force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Ms. Harris received first prize in the 2018 Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest (American Association of Suicidology). Her story is featured in The S Word, a documentary about suicide.

Kelechi Ubozoh is a nationally recognized suicide prevention advocate and was featured in the SAMHSA award-winning documentary The S Word. This year her story of recovery was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine. Her upcoming book with co-editor L.D. Green, We've Been Too Patient (July 2019),  is a collection of diverse stories of radical healing and considers the recent movement towards reform in the mental health field. She works at CalMHSA as the Tech Suite Peer and Community Engagement Manger.
Resources
Provide a space for grieving and to educate the community about the connection between trauma, survivors' guilt, and suicide. Find resources for making the commitment to building a trauma-sensitive school district and launching a community-wide initiative to build r esilience.
 
Schools can make things worse by heading down the path of militarization as a response, instead of changing school culture to focus more on social-emotional outcomes, not just academic ones.  
 
What happens to the survivors (APA, September 2018)
Long-term outcomes for survivors of mass shootings are improved with the help of community connections and continuing access to mental health support. 
 
Resources from ACEs Connection. 
We are grateful to our partner Dr. David Schonfeld at the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement for providing the following resources:
 
A guidance document for parents and educators on talking with children after a tragedy in the media:   Talking to children about terrorist attacks and school and community shootings in the news .  We also have guidance documents for schools on how to respond to a death of a member of the school community, whether from all causes ( Guidelines for Responding to the Death of a Student or School Staff ) or specifically due to suicide ( Guidelines for Schools Responding to a Death by Suicide ).
 
 
The purpose of this addendum is to provide referral resources for school personnel in our region.* Many schools integrate universal screening for depression, but lack the ability to refer students to mental health services. The resources compiled here focus on crisis intervention services that can meet immediate student needs. Where possible, state- and island-specific resources are included. Many of these organizations can also link students in crisis to no-cost or low-cost counseling services.    
 
*American Samoa; Arizona; California; Hawaii; Nevada; and Pacific Islands of Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau. 
Need further support, workshops, or training on suicide, violence, or crisis prevention and response? Contact us: pacificsouthwest@mhttcnetwork.org.
 
 
Contact the Pacific Southwest MHTTC
 
Toll-Free: 1-844-856-1749    Email: pacificsouthwest@mhttcnetwork.org