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Home > Rules & Legislation > Letters from the Commissioner > Informational Letters > Letter 24

 

INFORMATIONAL LETTER:  24
POLICY CODE:  JLDBA

TO:          Superintendents of Schools

FROM:     Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:     September 25, 2006

RE:          “Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention & Postvention Guidelines: A Resource for School Personnel”

 

On March 23, 2006, the revised Suicide Prevention, Intervention & Postvention Guidelines for Schools were shared with school sites at an event held in Augusta. Since program inception, the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program (MYSPP) has continued to strive towards reducing the number of youth suicides and suicide attempts. The MYSPP annually conducts extensive training for school and community groups, provides resource materials and endeavors to improve access to prevention and intervention services.

In 2002, the MYSPP developed and distributed guidelines to help school administrators institute protocols to aid school personnel and help provide a safety net for at-risk youth. The guidelines have now been revised as the result of extensive research to bring together the best available information on how school personnel can detect and prevent suicidal behavior and respond effectively in a crisis situation. Although the school role in identifying and assisting a suicidal student is limited, it is extremely important. It is equally important to note that, in a crisis that involves suicidal behavior, there are special issues that require advanced planning to assure the safety of other students as well as maintain control of the learning environment. The guidelines have been utilized by many Maine schools and in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded project in twelve high schools in the State with impressive results. 

The Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention specifically cites the need for school-based prevention and intervention policies. In response to frequent requests from school personnel, the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program made the development and dissemination of these guidelines a top priority.
            The guidelines are intended to aid school administrators in:

  • Developing or improving existing protocols for handling suicidal behavior,

  • Intervening effectively in crisis situations and in the aftermath of a student suicide, and

  • Returning to school following an absence for suicidal behavior.

If you have any questions regarding the Youth Suicide Prevention Guidelines, please contact Cheryl DiCara, Coordinator, Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program at cheryl.dicara@maine.gov or Jean Zimmerman of the Maine Department of Education at jean.zimmerman@maine.gov. To request a copy of the revised Guidelines, please call the Information and Resource Center (1-800-499-0027).