Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Practical Advice for Suicide Prevention and Intervention

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Practical Advice for Suicide Prevention and Intervention

Article excerpt

Practical Advice for Suicide Prevention and Intervention SUICIDE IN SCHOOLS: a Practitioner's guide to multilevel Prevention, assessment, intervention, and Postvention By T. A. Erbacher, J. Singer, & S. Poland 2015, Routledge

REVIEWED BY REBECCA KMITTA

Suicide shatters the soul, the self, others, and the community. Gratefully, completed suicide is not something we as educators are faced with often, if at all. What is unsettling, however, are the statistics; how commonplace it can be for our youth to encounter such thoughts. As educators, we all likely have attended some mandatory professional development workshop about the topic of suicide, yet how many of us can confidently say we feel prepared to deal with a suicide in our schools when the situation moves from a textbook scenario to reality? Losing one student is alarming; losing 4,822 students (McIntosh & Drapeau, 2014) is unfathomable. I cannot begin to think of the number of times I have listened to or completed an evaluation for a student who comes from a broken home, is abused, neglected, depressed, disconnected, anxious, hungry, a perfectionist ... and I did not dig deep enough or consider to ask about suicide simply because it was not mentioned by the student, indicated on some rating scale, or because, outwardly, a student appeared to be functioning well. The authors profoundly place at the forefront of the reader's mind to always ask, to universally screen all students to determine who is at risk, to provide multitiered interventions for different levels of threat, and to deliver a sense of ease with breaking the silence, stigma, and discomfort of suicide for the sake of our students' safety.

Suicide in Schools is an invaluable resource for educators. The authors walk the reader through suicide's risk factors and protective factors; who should make up the crisis team; how to prevent, plan for, and respond in the case of a crisis using NASP's PREPaRE model; and how to conduct a threat assessment and intervene with suicidal youth. They discuss the implications for educators, schools, and districts should they fail to aid in the prevention of suicide, by unveiling the outcomes from several litigations. As a school psychologist working in a state where youth are at the greatest risk for suicide, what I found most helpful is how the authors guide you to understand the prevention, intervention, and postvention process, sharing their own experiences and utilizing universal researchbased programs shown to be the most effective. …

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