Four Southern California schools have gained attention after reports show that they’ve decreased their number of teen suicide contemplation. Data from a A Southern California News Group analysis viewed data from 2013-14 through the 2016-17 school years, and showed that nearly “18% of students surveyed had expressed suicidal thoughts,” according to Daily Bulletin.
Educators in Lake Elsinore discovered that social media had an influence of teen suicidal thoughts.
“About three years ago, we were dealing with much more volume of social media attacks on students and threats and these were the things that caused greater disruption to the classroom environment and we as a district had to pay more attention to social media,” stated district spokesman Mark Griggs.
“Fast forward three or four years,” he continued, “and we have much more support on the ground for social-emotional support.”
During the 2013-14 school year reports showed that 25% of freshman had suicidal thoughts. That number decreased by 6 points just two years later.
The Riverside County school now works with specialist to intervene with students who may need help. Children from kindergarten through 12th grade all now have the ability to speak with someone from help.
“We believe in investing in the wellness of students as much as equipping the classrooms with the latest teaching technology,” said spokesman Griggs. “We’re training more of our instructors to be the partner who recognizes signals and problems and can call in the specialist.”
At Morongo Unified, 26% of students surveyed battled suicidal thoughts during the 2013-14 school year. Two years later, that number has decreased to 18%.
“We’ve done quite a bit of teacher training on suicide and suicidal ideations. We have a great crisis team that does part of that training,” said support and child welfare attendance coordinator, Julie Fontana. “Also, we’ve done a lot with our community partners.”
At the Rowland Unified School District, nearly 1 in 3 of students surveyed considered suicide. During the 2014-15 year, 44% of freshmen thought of killing themselves.
The district then took efforts to promote better mental health.
“This includes a mandatory system-wide training in suicide prevention and it involves an intentional look at school climate and a student’s sense of belonging,” said Laurel Estrada, a student services coordinator with the Los Angeles County district.
The district also recognized that sometimes a Childs mental health stems from problems at home. To address this, the district opened a family resource center which assist in providing food to families. They’ve also opened an eye care clinic.
Santa Ana Unified is also extending efforts by promoting messaging that entices students to speak up about a friend in need.
“If you see a student in crisis or exhibiting signs, bring it to the administration’s attention, bring it to someone’s attention,” said the district’s assistant superintendent for K-12 School Performance and Culture, Sonia Llamas. “That intervention could be the critical moment to turn that child away from suicidal thinking.”
Educators have taken on a consistent, target approach when it comes to the students needs.
“We’re making sure we re-integrate them back into our school community and making sure we check back in with them and making sure there’s the consistent message of hope, care and love,” Llamas said.
Kids know that this relationship doesn’t end with high school for us: We have a lifelong commitment to them in this community.”