Enhancing academics through prevention
It’s a troubling thought, one that adults may have a tough time comprehending. The idea that a young person, supposedly in the “prime of their life,” could end that life with deliberation, is disturbing to consider—and even worse to endure, say school personnel and communities that have experienced firsthand the loss of vulnerable adolescents to suicide.
The potential to intervene in a proactive way, in the best interests of students and staff, is spurring school districts throughout Wyoming to integrate suicide-prevention awareness programs.
The timing couldn’t be better, say state and national leaders in education and at-risk youth.
“Wyoming’s young people are engaging in risky behaviors that demand a coordinated response from families, schools and communities,” notes Jim McBride, Ed.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Wyoming Dept. of Education. “It is evident that if students are to master Wyoming academic standards and reach their full potential as productive citizens, we must work to reduce risk behaviors and help students make positive life choices.”
The good news? Despite school resources and staff often stretched thin, evidence-based risk prevention programs not only exist, but can be integrated into existing curricula with little additional resource allocation. Moreover, implementing a sound school-based suicide- prevention program can actually reduce a school district’s risk exposure to potential for legal action.
Yet are schools a fitting place for suicide prevention? Absolutely, say experts in education, pediatrics, child psychiatry and violence prevention.
Schools have a mandate to educate and protect students, say experts in school crisis intervention, adding that it’s in the legislation state by state. But mandates aside, school suicide- prevention programs make good sense, in part because they can enhance help-seeking behaviors while curbing risk behaviors among youngsters that can adversely impact academic achievement; these include behaviors such as promiscuity, drug and alcohol use, and violent acts including potential for harm against self or others.