Suicide Prevention During Virtual Learning

Cross Country Education
By:
Cross Country Education
Posted:
September 24, 2020 10:43 AM (GMT-04:00)
Categories:
Resources
In the wake of COVID-19 and school closures, school psychologists will face challenges in using telecommunication options to provide mental health services and suicide intervention. Our role as mental health providers may look different during school closures; however, our practice should remain consistent. When addressing suicidal ideation and behavior during virtual learning, school psychologists should still implement best practices related to Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention. 
 
This is meant to be an overview, not an exhaustive list, of how school psychologists can help. Please see NASP’s statement for more comprehensive information.   
 
Prevention 
School psychologists should promote mental wellness, proactively provide guidance that mitigates the danger associated with suicidal ideation, and help identify at-risk youth. Even when working virtually, we must enable access to resources and communicate effectively with school personnel and families the risks associated with depression, anxiety, stress, social media, and isolation from friends. Please see the Suicide Prevention Resource Center website for more helpful tips and strategies.   
 
Intervention 
As virtual service providers, school psychologists can provide the necessary mental health interventions when alerted by school personnel. Virtual platforms foster connection to the student, their family, and community service providers and agencies to best support the student. Virtual platforms allow for a quality and collaborative risk assessment to be completed. Information should be gathered on the student’s plan, access, means, level of lethality, and support systems. Once a threat assessment is completed, school psychologists and administration can provide the family with resources and can make the necessary connections to community agencies to ensure the student’s safety.  
 
Safety planning is a critical component of intervention. It is crucial to help students identify the internal and external resources and supports available to them. Some great apps to look into include A Friend Asks and the Suicide Safe Mobile App.  
 
Remember, NASP indicates that “because suicide intervention is crisis intervention, parental consent is not required, and the absence of parents should not prevent a suicide intervention.” Always consult with your administration and the district’s legal counsel on how to manage these situations.  
 
Postvention 
Postvention requires intervening to help students cope with extreme traumatic stressors and to minimize suicide contagion. During times of virtual service delivery, we must work with school personnel and families to monitor social media and other virtual platforms to identify at-risk youth and minimize suicide contagion.  
 
Find out where your specialized skills as a school psychologist are needed most today. 

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