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Intervening with a Potential Suicide - November 2010 Revision

Intervening

When a student threatens suicide or manifests the signs of his/her intent, immediate action shall be taken by district staff to intervene on behalf of the student.  It is not the responsibility of the school to make a formal assessment of risk or do necessary in-depth counseling; however, district personnel are in the position and have the duty to make appropriate referrals and to immediately secure formal assessments.

Reporting the Information

Any district employee who has knowledge of a suicide threat shall report this information to the school counselor at the school the student attends.  If the employee is not knowledgeable of the specific school the student attends or who to contact, they shall report the information to Albuquerque Public Schools Counseling Services or the Albuquerque Public Schools Police Department.  (If the student has been assigned to a school social worker, the threat may be reported to the social worker instead of the school counselor.) If the counselor or social worker is not on campus, the threat shall be reported to the school nurse. If the school nurse is unavailable, the threat shall be reported to an Albuquerque Public Schools psychologist. In addition, the principal shall be apprised of the situation by the school counselor or any other district employee who has received knowledge of a potential suicide if the school counselor is not present.

Student Interview

The school counselor or any district employee who has received knowledge of a potential suicide if the school counselor is not present shall interview the student and, unless there are extenuating circumstances, shall follow the Counselor’s Responsibilities in Responding to a Potential Suicide to guide the process.

Parent/Legal Guardian Contact

The parent/legal guardian shall be notified immediately after the interview.  The school counselor, or any other district employee who has received knowledge of a potential suicide if the school counselor is not present, shall request that the parent come to pick up the student and take him/her for an emergency assessment.  While waiting for the parent/legal guardian, the student shall remain in the office and under constant supervision.  The student shall not be left alone under any circumstance.

If a parent/legal guardian refuses to pick up the student and/or take him/her for an emergency assessment, the school counselor, or any other district employee who has received knowledge of a potential suicide if the school counselor is not present, shall document the parent/legal guardian refusal and send that documentation to Albuquerque Public School Counseling Services.  The school counselor and any other district employee who has received knowledge of a potential suicide if the school counselor is not present may then follow the “Emergency Placement” section of this procedural directive.

Assessment

Albuquerque Public Schools shall provide a same-day emergency suicide assessment at no cost to the family, through an outside agency that the district contracts with for this purpose. The school counselor shall arrange this by notifying the Counseling Services manager, or his/her designee, who will assist the school counselor in contacting the designated agency.  The purpose of the assessment shall be to determine if the student is at risk of immediate harm to himself or herself and to suggest any additional assistance that may be warranted. Parents/legal guardians may have the option of taking their child to another facility of their choice that is equipped to do emergency suicide assessments, which shall be at their own expense.

If a parent/legal guardian cannot be reached and school officials believe the student to be a great risk, the designated agency shall be requested to come to the school for an emergency assessment.  This shall only be done after consultation with the manager of Counseling Services.

Emergency Placement

Principals, school counselors and other appropriate parties shall not make any decisions related to emergency placement of the student.  The decision to transport the student to the hospital for an evaluation shall be the responsibility and decision of the parents/legal guardian.  If the parent/legal guardian cannot be contacted, or refuses to take the student for an evaluation, the school principal, school counselor, school nurse, Albuquerque Public Schools psychologist and Counseling Services may consult and law enforcement may decide to transport the student, by ambulance, to the hospital for an evaluation.  The school counselor may also contact an agency contracted with Albuquerque Public Schools for counseling and consultant services to come to the school site and perform an evaluation if appropriate.

If the student has recently attempted suicide and needs medical attention, the school nurse shall be contacted immediately to determine the appropriate course of action.

New Mexico Child, Youth and Family Department Involvement

The New Mexico Child, Youth and Family Department does not act on suicide threats unless they are accompanied by suspected child abuse or neglect.  Therefore, if a history of abuse or abuse is suspected, the school counselor or appropriate party shall contact the New Mexico Child, Youth and Family Department to file a report and to determine next steps.  If there is no suspected abuse or neglect, the New Mexico Child, Youth and Family Department shall not be contacted.  However, should no action be taken by the parents after an initial threat and threats and/or attempts continue, this may be viewed as neglect and shall be reported as such.

Training and Professional Development

The principal shall ensure that all staff members are advised about warning signs as well as Board of Education policies and administrative procedural directives concerning potential suicide on an annual basis.  Principals shall work with the school counselor to request that he/she present the appropriate information to all staff members at the beginning of the school year. A sign-in sheet for the training/in-service, listing staff name, employee number, and signature shall be sent to the Counseling Services manager within five (5) days of the training.

Administrative Position: Assistant Superintendent of School and Community Support

Department Director: Director of Health and Wellness/Counseling Services Manager

References:

Legal Cross Ref.: New Mexico Office of School and Adolescent Health regulations

Board Policy Cross Ref.:

Procedural Directive Cross Ref.:

Forms Cross Ref.: Parent/Legal Guardian Refusal Form (Please contact Health & Wellness)

 

Approved: March 2004
Revised: August 2008
Reviewed: September 24, 2010
Reviewed: October 15, 2010
Reviewed: November 8, 201
Revised: November 12, 2010

 

Intervening with a Potential Suicide

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