Suicide Risk Assessment for Schools: A Cost-Effective and Life-Saving Process Improvement
The first step to effective suicide prevention in schools is ensuring a safe and accepting environment that fosters trusting relationships with adults. From this starting point, successful suicide prevention educational programs, school-based suicide risk assessment, and effective in-school intervention plans may be implemented.
At Thrive, we understand the legal and moral responsibility of educators to recognize and respond appropriately to suicidal ideation and warning behaviors, and that the actions taken must be balanced against the consequences of reacting too aggressively to a low-risk situation. An effective school-based suicide screening provides evidence-based and quantifiable results on which to base an appropriate response.
What Are the Statistical Risks?
For the 15- to-24-year-old age group, suicide is the second leading cause of death. In a survey of United States students in grades 9-12, 16% reported that they seriously considered suicide, and 8% stated that they tried to take their own lives in the past 12 months.1 These alarming numbers indicate that warning signs must always be taken very seriously.
Early Identification, Assessment, and Intervention
As soon as a staff member becomes aware of a student’s potentially suicidal behavior, they should begin the school-based suicide prevention protocols. Making sure that the student is escorted and supervised at all times, they should seek a professional risk assessment immediately. Until a SageThrive clinician has determined the level of risk, the student should not be left alone.
Thrive specialists are standing by as part of their partnership with the school district to provide immediate early assessment and intervention in the school environment. By avoiding using 911 and the emergency room as a first response, the situation can be dealt with safely, discreetly, and with reasonable costs.
School-Based Suicide Risk Assessment Defined
Suicide assessment involves a comprehensive evaluation performed by a highly trained clinician. There are a number of evaluation tools which are tailored to different age groups. Even children as young as 10 may be evaluated using these assessment instruments.
This essential step utilizes these tools and the core skills of counseling, including direct, intentional interviewing to determine the seriousness of the suicidal intention. The assessment will determine the suspected suicide risk and an estimate of the immediate danger to the student, and it will recommend a course of action.
A Partnership with Thrive Provides Seamless Support
By providing a school-based suicide risk assessment, Thrive can help provide better outcomes and prevent expensive and frustrating emergency room visits for the student. The added stress and anxiety of unnecessary 911 calls can make the situation worse and encourage the student to deny or hide any warning behaviors.
Performing a professional assessment in the school itself, Thrive clinicians can be the first line of protection for both the student and the school by offering less-restrictive treatment and counseling options when the risks are determined to be low and manageable. Parents can be informed and engaged before outside authorities are involved, increasing their trust and partnership with teachers and administrators.
Thrive provides the best counseling options for your students and fills the gaps between emergency care and in-school supports. The added layer of expertise and objective evaluation will integrate seamlessly into the strong student support systems and suicide awareness efforts of your district.