Local school district updating suicide prevention policy

Image courtesy: Leon County Schools’ website

The majority of Leon County School Board members voted recently to update the district’s policy on student suicide prevention, awareness and screening.

To update the language, the district is required to conduct an educational training program for youth suicide awareness, prevention and screening using materials from the statewide office for suicide prevention.

Administrators in different schools around Leon County will be given instructions on identifying students believed to be at risk for suicide and how to get help for them.

Ashley Moore is a manager with SG Mental Health Counseling.

“If you ever find a child going through a suicide phase, make sure to No. 1, stop and ask them to write down how they feel, so it can sway their mind into thinking about much more happier things.” Moore said.

She said resources aren’t the only tools needed to prevent suicide among children.

The tools being enforced in the Leon County School District are the FACTS checklist.

Mani Baker, a parent, said parents and teachers should look out for suicide using the FACT checklist.

F is for feelings

A is for actions

C is for changes

T is for threats

S is for situations.

Using this checklist in schools helps make parents more aware of how their kids may feel if they go through those phases.

“Being able to create that safe place for that child, letting them know that your non-judgmental, non-biased,” Baker said.

The school district is expected to hold a public hearing for the policy update in the upcoming months.

The goal, they said, is to give the school district’s leaders the opportunity to make sure the students are feeling safe in all aspects. It is importing to incorporate a mental health class in the different schools around the county.

Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey data documents that in 2017, 28% of Florida high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in a row.

If you think you or someone you know needs mental health help, you are urged to call 2-1-1 Big Bend as a first step.

It offers a free, 24-hour support hotline and can also put you in touch with local resources to help save a life.

Fourteen percent of people reported purposely hurting themselves without wanting to die, but another 14% reported having seriously considered attempting suicide. Eleven percent reported having made a plan to commit suicide; and 8% reported a suicide attempt, according to the hotline.