Important Message about Suicide Prevention

I’m writing to share some important information about this year’s plans for suicide prevention training with our students.

As we ease into fall and the school year is finally settling in (this is actually our first 5 day school week of the year!), it is important to remember that October might be a difficult time of year for some of our students.

Two years ago we lost one of our students, Katie Stack, to suicide.  She would have been a senior this year.  As most of you know, Katie was one of three Newton students who died by suicide that year.  It is important that we all continue to check in with our students/children to understand if they might be in need of additional support.  One of our mantras here at South has become “Don’t worry alone,” and we share this idea – that no student or adult should be the only one with concerning information about someone else – with all of our students and faculty at class assemblies and meetings at the beginning of the year.  We ask our students to share their concerns with a trusted adult, whether that be a parent, teacher, coach, guidance counselor, clergy, or other important person in their life.

Last year, we made available to every student at South (and North) the the Signs of Suicide (SOS) Curriculum and the Brief Screening for Adolescent Depression (BSAD).  This program has been used by thousands of schools over the past decade.  It has proven successful at helping students concerned about themselves or a friend. It is the only school-based suicide prevention curriculum listed by SAMSHA in its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression.

This year (and every year going forward) we will be offering 11th graders the “booster” portion of the SOS curriculum in November in English classes, and the 9th graders will receive the full SOS program in January in Health and Wellness classes.

Another change: this year we will host one district-wide parent SOS preview and Q&A session with the wonderful practitioners at Riverside Trauma Center on October 7th, at 6 pm at Newton North High School in the lecture hall near the main office.

As always, if you have concerns or worries bout your son or daughter, please contact his or her guidance counselor.
The Warning Signs and Symptoms of Depression and Suicidality from Riverside Trauma Center, as well as contact information and hotline numbers,  is available here.

As always, thank you for being our partner in this very important effort!