Intervening with a Potential Suicide - August 2008 Revision
When a student threatens suicide or manifests the signs of his/her intent, immediate action should be taken to intervene on behalf of the student. Schools are not equipped to make a formal assessment of risk nor do the necessary in-depth counseling, but schools are in the position and have the duty to make appropriate referrals and to immediately secure such assistance.
Reporting the Information
Any school employee who may have knowledge of a suicide threat must report this information to the school counselor. If the counselor isn’t on campus, it should be reported to the school nurse, social worker, or cluster psychologist. In addition the principal may request to be apprised of these situations.
The school counselor should interview the student and may use the Suicide Intervention Counselor Notes (in the APS Counseling Resource Guide) to guide the process.
The parent should then be notified immediately after the interview. The school counselor should request that the parent come to pick up the student and take him/her for an emergency assessment. While waiting for the parent, the student should remain in the office and should not be left alone.
If the parent doesn’t have resources to pay for an assessment, APS will provide one at no cost to the family. The assessment will be conducted through an outside agency that the district contracts with for this purpose. The school counselor will arrange this by notifying the counseling coordinator and contacting the designated agency. The purpose of the assessment is to determine if the student is at risk of immediate harm to himself or herself and to suggest any additional help that may be warranted.
If a parent or guardian cannot be reached and school officials believe the student to be a great risk, the designated agency may be requested to come to the school for an emergency assessment. This should only be done after consultation with the coordinator of counseling services.
Do not make any decisions related to emergency placement. The decision to transport the student to the hospital for an evaluation must be the responsibility and decision of the parents or law enforcement (if the parent cannot be reached.)
If the student has recently attempted suicide and needs medical attention, the school nurse should be contacted immediately to determine the appropriate course of action.
CYFD does not act on suicide threats unless they are accompanied by suspected child abuse or neglect. Therefore, if there is a history of abuse or abuse is suspected, contact CYFD to make a report and to determine next steps. If there is no suspected abuse or neglect, omit this step. However, should no action be taken by the parents after an initial threat and threats and/or attempts continue, this can be viewed as neglect and should be reported as such.
The principal will ensure that all staff are advised about warning signs as well as policies and procedures on an annual basis. Principals should 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.
Approved: March 2004
Revised: March 2005