Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Paget Hetherington
on May 18, 2019

If your school is concerned about self-harm and suicide, there are steps you can take to help prevent an incident before it occurs. Schools and districts across the country are turning to programs like Hope Squad to be more proactive in prevention, intervention, and postvention through their training programs for student-led teams. This school-based suicide prevention program involves students, faculty, staff, and the community to create a support team within a school. By partnering with local mental health agencies, the program aims to help schools reduce self-destructive behavior and youth suicide.

Education and training play a major role in the prevention of suicide and harmful behavior by helping to create a safe, non-threatening space for students. Hope Squad can guide faculty, as well as students who wish to become peer mediators or counselors, on the best ways to approach students of varying ages so they can comfortably discuss their feelings. It’s imperative that staff know how to look for warning signs, triggers, and risk factors in order to intervene before it’s too late.

If a staff member or peer believes they have identified suicidal or dangerous behavior in a student, it’s time to take action. According to Hope Squad, it’s critical that guidelines are established—either at the school or district level—for protecting and assisting students in these situations. The program also recommends identifying at least one on-site mental health coordinator, as well as developing a crisis response plan to guide school personnel.

If an incident does occur, having a postvention plan is equally important to reduce the risk to those affected by the tragedy. By creating a procedure, schools will be properly equipped to handle postvention preparation and actions, helping to restore the learning environment. While it will take some effort to create the necessary plans for prevention,
intervention, and postvention, Hope Squad can help you every step of the way. With
their guidance, any school can take a proactive approach to suicide prevention in
order to keep their students safe.

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