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Saving Lives & Mending Souls: The Successful Reintegration of Students After a Suicide Attempt

Presentation given to the Utah State Suicide Prevention Conference, Dec. 3, 2014, Provo, UT.
by

Phil Rodgers, Ph.D.

on 3 December 2015

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Transcript of Saving Lives & Mending Souls: The Successful Reintegration of Students After a Suicide Attempt

Suicide has multiple contributing factors
Biological
Factors
Familial
Risk
Serotonin
Function
Neurochemical
Regulators
Demographics
Pathophysiology
Proximal
Factors
Hopelessness
Intoxication
Impulsiveness
Aggressiveness
Negative
Expectancy
Severe
Chronic Pain
Predisposing
Factors
Major Mental
Disorders
Substance
Use/Abuse
Personality
Profile
Abuse
Syndromes
Severe Medical Illness
Immediate
Triggers
Access To
Weapons
Severe Defeat
Major Loss
Worsening
Prognosis
Public Humiliation
Shame
Age 12
Age 14
Age 16
Age 15
Age 11
Clinical
Depression
Increased
Isolation
Parents
Divorce
Let's think in terms of trajectories
Substance
Abuse
Suicide
Attempt
Age 16
Bullying
Incident
To help Tate, school officials:
Met with his parents to discuss needs
Gave an excused absence
Provided a scribe to take notes
Gave extensions to homework
Monitored progress
Modified plan when needed
How does it feel?
Suicide Rates & Risk Factors
Reintegration
Barriers to mental health treatment
Believed nothing could help
Seeking help was a sign of weakness or failure
Reluctant to admit having problems
Denied problems
Too embarrased to get help
"Suicide is a particularly awful way to die. The mental suffering leading up to it is usually prolonged, intense and unpalliated. There is no morphine equivalent to ease the acute pain...The suffering of the suicidal is private and inexpressible leaving family members, friends and colleagues with an almost unfathemable loss as well as guilt."
Create a safety plan
The Safety Plan is a written, prioritized list of coping strategies and resources for reducing suicide risk.

Connect with calm and compassion
Understand this is a way of coping with pain
Listen
Foster connection
Identify/work with a student's strengths
Seek appropriate help

Threaten hospitalization/punishment
Act shocked, overreact
Talk about SI in front of class or peers
Agree to hold SI behavior confidential
Make deals or promises you can't keep

That a student could die
Don't know what to do
Doing the wrong thing
Legal action
Talking about suicide
The Coded language of suicide
"I don't deserve to live."
"I can't tolerate this pain."
"No one can understand what I'm going through."
"I'm completely unworthy of love."
"I'm no good, worthless, broken."

Becoming knowledgeable
Having procedures in place
Collaboration
Understanding your role
Documenting actions
Knowing how to talk about suicide
Statements leading up to suicide:
"I'm stupid."
"I can't do anything right."
"I'm a terrible friend. I don't even know why you guys are friends with me."
"I feel confused and upset. I can't do anything right."
Kyle Ambrogi
The one thing that most people do not understand about those who are suicidal....
They don't want to die, they simply
want the pain to end.
But, there is hope.
2.Become familiar with the student's case
How was risk identified?
What precipitated the case?
What help/treatment is being provided?
Is the student on medication?
3. Meet with the family
Before return to school
Develop re-entry plan
Ascertain student and family needs
Coordinate in-school services
Refer to community services if appropriate
Get permission to contact mental health provider
Get MHP/doctor's note to return to school
4. Serve as a liaison to other teachers & staff
With permission of the family
Discuss situation with student's teachers
Limited

to a need to know basis
Include

possible medication side-effects
Signs of distress/risk
Modify student's schedule as needed
Arrange for tutoring as needed
5. Monitor student progress
Attendance, academic, behavioral performance
Follow-up as needed
Modify plan as needed
Maintain contact with parents
Maintain contact with mental health provider
1. Identify a school point person/liaison
Counselor, psychologist, social worker, nurse, vice-principal, etc.
The process for creating a safety net for students returning to school after a suicide attempt and/or hospitalization.
Needs will change over time.
Source: Craig Bryan, University of Utah
See www.spsmchat.com
Source: Moskos, M. A., Olson, L. Halbern, S. R., Gray, D. (2007). Utah youth suicide study: Barriers to mental health treatment for adolescents.
Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 3
(2), 179-186.
Addressing Fears
Fears
Antidotes to Fears
Do's
Don'ts
Do's & Don'ts
Source: David Knesper, University of Michigan
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Additional reintegration resources
Los Angeles Unified School District
Source: Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention (Students). BUL-2637.1
Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program
Source: Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program.
Closing Thoughts
Each of us can make a difference
In our families, schools, communities
By talking about suicide
By demonstrating leadership
By becoming knowledgeable
By becoming a person who will listen
Saving Lives & Mending Souls: The Successful Reintegration of Students after a Suicide Attempt
Philip Rodgers Ph.D.
LivingWorks Education Inc.

phil.rodgers@livingworks.net
@DrPhilRodgers
Full transcript