Sometimes it takes a crisis to create change. The experience of educating children during the pandemic may have been the catalyst that put children’s mental health in the spotlight. In a way, that’s a positive situation. Parents, teachers, counselors, nurses, and administrators recognize the urgent need to take action.
Schools can’t afford to overlook the importance of mental and behavioral health as a factor of student success. Some students will go with the flow and manage the ups and downs well enough, but the data tells us that too many children are struggling right now.
Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression don’t necessarily lead to suicide, but they can. Schools should be taking steps to increase awareness, train teachers, staff, students, and parents to recognize warning signs and risk factors. And they need to know what to do if someone is at risk.
Schools must have resources to help them build strong prevention programs. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) has a lot of them. So do I.
A Culture of Caring: A Suicide Prevention Guide for Schools (K-12) was created as a resource for educators who want to know how to get started and what steps to take to create a suicide prevention plan that will work for their schools and districts. It is written from my perspective as a school principal and survivor of suicide loss, not an expert in psychology or counseling. I hope that any teacher, school counselor, psychologist, principal, or district administrator can pick up this book, flip to a chapter, and easily find helpful answers to the questions they are likely to have about what schools can do to prevent suicide.