Asked about Washington County’s training on suicide awareness and prevention, Steve Burnett, the district’s supervisor of school counseling services, responded in an email.
“We offer comprehensive prevention, intervention and postvention supports for suicide prevention through the Office of School Counseling,” he wrote. “Below is a summary of the major supports we provide.”
All crisis team members attend an annual crisis team bootcamp that reviews Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) techniques for suicide prevention.
All WCPS teachers, school counselors and staff receive annual training on QPR techniques to recognize early warning signs of suicide ideation.
Annually, the Crisis Response Handbook is updated to ensure that suicide-prevention protocols are included.
The Office of School Counseling has worked with school ID partners to facilitate that the Maryland suicide hot line is included on student IDs.
Student and parent suicide-prevention brochures have been created and are routinely distributed to provide guidance for those who might be having suicide ideation or be in crisis.
Schools frequently provide suicide-prevention assemblies.
A referral list of community therapeutic partners is updated annually to provide resources for student and family referrals.
WCPS has executed numerous memorandums of understanding with community partners to allow for therapeutic services to be offered during the school day for students working with approved therapists.
The WCPS Crisis Team consists of school counselors, social workers and behavioral specialists.
Professional school counselors and social workers intervene each time a student makes a statement regarding injuring themselves, in consultation with other professionals. Incidents of suicide ideation are documented and reviewed by the supervisor of school counseling.
Professional school counselors and social workers all maintain at least a master’s degree and certification in school counseling and/or social work. Training in areas of suicide prevention are encompassed in both graduate programs.
Referrals to outside agencies, parent meetings and transportation to the emergency room are a few of the interventions that might occur, depending on risk assessments.
Trained members of the WCPS Crisis Response Team often are called upon in the unfortunate event of a completed suicide by one of the students or staff within the WCPS school system.