Detroit-area school increases suicide prevention efforts
- West Bloomfield High Shool, north of Detroit, which has experienced four student suicides in the past four years, is implementing a program created by an alum that seeks to teach students the coping strategies they need to get through their teen years, the Detroit Free Press reports.
- The graduate, Ryan Beale, calls Therapy Live an "experiential mental health" program. Over a five-week period that includes 15 classes, students store their phones in a caddy and have frank discussions that cover topics such as anger, while health educators also provide students with additional resources and support if needed.
- The program is designed for freshmen and part of a larger effort at the school to focus on mental health issues. Those efforts also include small counseling groups and a health and wellness program that includes yoga and visits from a therapy dog, and a health and wellness center is currently under construction.
Friday’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, south of Houston — coming so close to the killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.— was another reminder that multiple strategies are needed to prevent students from harming themselves or others.
In an NPR piece last week, Ron Astor, a professor of social work and education at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, described his latest research, based on the California Healthy Kids Survey. The data show that the percentages of students who report that they have considered suicide within the past 12 months are higher in schools where students also report more bullying, fighting and discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation.
That means, Astor and his co-authors wrote, that "it is possible that certain school characteristics either enhance or buffer the influence of individual characteristics."
With some states beginning to include mental health education in schools, the research suggests that those efforts should also connect to broader plans for improving school climate and relationships between students.
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