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District to develop suicide prevention policy

Chino Champion - 9/26/2017

In response to new state laws, the Chino Valley school district will add high-risk student groups to its suicide prevention policy.

High-risk groups defined by the state include students who are gay, transgender, homeless, and those who struggle with substance abuse, disabilities, and mental illness.

California is the first state to require school districts to include gay and transgender students in their suicide prevention plans.

A new law AB 2246 requires California school districts with grades 7 to 12 to adopt, by the beginning of this school year, a policy on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.

The new "Safe School Plan" was adopted by the school board Sept. 7.

The district's suicide prevention policy was last revised in 2011.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new policy encourages students to notify school officials or other adults if they are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or know of students having these thoughts.

Crisis intervention procedures will address suicide threats and attempts, and counseling strategies will be implemented to help students and staff in the aftermath of a suicide.

The "Safe School Plan" will be developed by a committee of school district officials and mental health professionals, community members, law enforcement, and suicide prevention experts, said Imee Perius, school district spokesperson.

The assembly bill text states:

"In a national survey conducted by the Jason Foundation, the number one person whom a pupil would turn to for helping a friend who might be suicidal was a teacher. It is imperative that when a young person comes to a teacher for help, the teacher has the knowledge, tools, and resources to respond."

Training will begin in 2018 for teachers, counselors, and employees who interact with students, Mrs. Perius said.

The district has an established Safe Schools Ambassadors program as part of its suicide prevention measures to identify and eliminate bullying.

The program began at Townsend Junior High in 2010 and is in effect at all elementary schools, junior high schools, K-8 schools, and at Chino Hills High School.

Mrs. Perius said the district does not keep official records of student suicides, but unofficially, two students are known to have taken their lives in the last five years.


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