PWCS Expanding Focus on Suicide Prevention

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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

PWCS is expanding its focus on suicide prevention, something the School Division is committed to focus on, discuss, and ultimately prevent. The Office of Student Services is expanding that focus by adding two potentially life-saving programs on serious mental health topics.

“We have begun hosting suicide prevention training events with our new community partner, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP),” said Richmond Hill, supervisor of student assistance and prevention programs. “AFSP is facilitating ‘train the trainer’ workshops. These will prepare our school counselors, other mental health professionals and school personnel to present national prevention courses meant to help recognize and understand suicidal behavior.

PWCS is building a team of facilitators certified to deliver the training to staff in schools throughout the School Division, with the goal of providing instruction at all middle and high schools for students in grades eight and higher.

• “More than Sad” is a broad teen depression and suicide prevention education program that uses videos, guides, and other materials geared for eighth graders to adult.

• “It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health” reveals depression and other mental health conditions as they are commonly experienced by young adults. This program is intended to prepare 12th-grade students to recognize and manage potential uncertainties or concerns that may manifest as graduation nears.

“More than Sad” and “It’s Real” build on our existing services, helping all of us understand depression and suicidal behavior so that we can support students and give them the resources they need to fulfill their potential,” said Carolyn Custard, director of PWCS Office of Student Services. “When students feel a personal connection to individuals in their school and community, it can be just the support they need to speak up in times of distress. This connectedness is one of the 40 Developmental Assets we work to promote as essential for young people to thrive.”

“Making suicide prevention education a priority is important and making it a priority is a promise we will keep,” said Hill, himself an AFSP certified trainer. “We want people to know we are talking about these issues, and we are committed to working together toward solutions.”

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