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Concord-Carlisle HS hosting community meeting following student suicide

Wicked Local Northwest - 2/4/2020

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In the wake of a recent suicide by a Concord-Carlisle student, Superintendent Laurie Hunter is working to prevent another.

On Monday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m., CCHS will hold a community meeting for parents and others in the community in the Learning Commons.

Members of the Riverside Trauma Center's team and other school and local providers will be present to provide information about common reactions following suicide and how adults can help youths cope. They will also provide information about suicide and mental illness in adolescents, including risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and will address attendees' questions and concerns.

"In the days following the tragic loss of a student in our school community, we want to continue to provide you resources and opportunities relative to suicide prevention and support," Hunter said in a letter sent to the CCHS community and The Concord Journal. "It is also seemed very important to share an overview of the districts' belief that the mental health of our students is in crisis and our efforts to respond."

According to statistics from a Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2018., many students report behaviors related to significant stress:

* 14% have injured themselves on purpose in the past year;

* 22% have felt so sad or hopeless almost every day that they stopped doing usual activities;

* 12% have seriously considered suicide at some point in the past year (highest in 10th grade at 15%);

* 7% have made a plan about how they would attempt suicide in the past year;

* 3% said they have attempted suicide in the past year;

* 12% are worried about someone at school who they think is thinking about self-injury or suicide;

* 16% were told by a peer that the peer was thinking about self-injury or suicide.

"Stress and the mental health of our youth have been a growing concern," Hunter wrote. "This concern has grown to such a critical level that it is a core initiative in the five-year strategic plan."

The initiatives currently underway to decrease school-related stress include:

* At each school site, students and families have access to counselors and psychologists. These professionals support students through running lunch groups, providing support to classroom teachers, and coordinating with pediatricians and outside therapists;

* All of the district's mental health professionals actively work together to coordinate efforts on the PreK -- 12 Mental Health Team;

* During the 2017-2018 school year, a PreK -- 12 group of teachers and administrators worked together on the Health Committee to improve and expand our curriculum;

* At each school site, students have opportunities to learn a variety of coping strategies to develop mindfulness and manage technology use and stress;

* Concord Middle School and Concord High School have begun to administer a social-emotional screening assessment (PEAR) to determine if individual students need support;

* The Signs of Suicide screener will continue to be administered to all students at Concord Middle School;

"The school-based counselors and staff are valued resources for you and your family," Hunter wrote. "Ongoing monitoring following a suicide in the community is critical to the safety of all children. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the guidance and adjustment counselors in the schools."

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