Suicide Awareness and Prevention Policy
The Erie Catholic School System adopts this policy in acknowledgment of St. James School’s commitment to maintaining a safe school environment; to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its students; to promote healthy development; and to safeguard against the threat or attempt of suicide among school-aged youth. Therefore, in order to ensure the safety and welfare of students, the school will work to educate school personnel and students on the actions and resources necessary to promote well-being and prevent suicide.
At-Risk for Suicide shall mean any youth with risk factors or warning signs that increase the likelihood of suicidal behavior.
Behavioral Health shall mean the emotion, behaviors, and biology related to a person's mental well-being, their ability to function in everyday life and their concept of self.
Postvention shall mean activities which reduce risk and promote healing after a suicide death.
Prevention refers to efforts that seek to reduce the factors that increase the risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors and increase the factors that help strengthen, support, and protect individuals from suicide.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress or "bouncing back" from difficult experiences.
Suicide shall refer to death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior.
Suicidal Act or Suicide Attempt shall mean a potentially self-injurious behavior for which there is evidence that the person intended to kill him/herself; a suicidal act may result in death, injuries, or no injuries.
Suicide Threat shall mean a verbal or nonverbal communication that an individual intends to harm him/herself with the intention to die but has not acted on the behavior.
Warning Signs are evidence-based indicators, often observable, that someone may be in danger of suicide, either immediately or in the very near future.
Suicide Awareness and Prevention: The Erie Catholic School System will utilize its individual schools’ building level support teams. These team will provide a multifaceted approach to suicide awareness and prevention, which includes the following:
• Staff Development:
All school personnel shall receive information, in writing, regarding the school/system’s protocols for suicide awareness and prevention. Youth suicide awareness and prevention education will be provided for all school personnel about the importance of suicide prevention, the recognition of suicide risk factors and warning signs, and how to respond. Staff education should also include strategies to enhance protective factors, resilience, and school connectedness. Professional staff in all school buildings serving students in grades six (6) through twelve (12) shall participate in four (4) hours of youth suicide awareness and prevention training every five (5) years.
• Prevention Education for Students:
Students shall receive age-appropriate lessons in their classrooms through health education or other appropriate curricula on the importance of safe and healthy choices, as well as help seeking strategies for self and/or others.
Information received in confidence from a student may be revealed to the student’s parents or guardians, the building administrator or other appropriate authority when the health, welfare or safety of the student or other persons is clearly in jeopardy.
The building administrator shall develop guidelines for responding to a suicide threat.
Any school personnel who observes a student exhibiting a warning sign for suicide, or who has another indication that a student may be contemplating suicide, shall refer the student for risk assessment and intervention in accordance with Erie Catholic’s referral procedures.
If the student has been identified as being at increased risk of suicide, the individual school shall create an Emergency Medical Plan to support the student.
Any school personnel who is made aware of any threat or witnesses any attempt towards self-harm that is written, drawn, spoken or threatened shall immediately notify the building administrator or designee. Any threat in any form shall be treated as real and dealt with immediately. No student should be left alone, nor confidences promised. In cases of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, a student’s confidentiality will be waived, except when involving the seal of confession. The individual schools’ response procedures shall be implemented.
If an expressed suicide thought or intention is made known to any school personnel during a before or after school program, school-sponsored event or sport team and the building administrator or designee are not available, call East Erie County Emergency 1-814-898-3333 OR West Erie County Emergency 1-814-860-1563, 1-800-SUICIDE, or 1-800-273-TALK for help. Inform the building administrator of the incident and actions taken.
• Procedures for Parental Involvement:
Parents or guardians of a student identified as being at risk of suicide must be immediately notified by the school and must be involved in consequent actions and provided with crisis and community resources. If any mandated reporter suspects that a student’s risk status is the result of abuse or neglect, that individual must comply with the reporting requirements of the Child Protective Services Law.
• Response to Suicide Attempt:
The building administrator or designee shall develop guidelines for responding to a suicide attempt on school grounds or during a school-sponsored event.
The first school personnel on the scene of a suicide attempt on campus must follow the individual schools’ response procedures and shall immediately notify the building administrator or designee.
The individual school will immediately notify the parents or guardians of the affected student(s).
If a suicide attempt occurs off campus, then the individual school will follow the school’s crisis response procedures and subsequent reentry procedures upon the student’s return to school.
The building principal or designee shall meet with the parents/guardians of a student returning to school after a behavioral health crisis, and, if appropriate, meet with the student to discuss reentry and applicable next steps to ensure the student’s readiness to return to school.
• Response to Suicide (Postvention):
The building administrator or designee shall develop guidelines for responding to a suicide death.
The first school personnel on the scene of a suicide on campus must follow the individual schools’ response procedures and shall immediately notify the building administrator or designee.
The individual school will immediately notify the parents or guardians of the affected student(s). Upon confirmation of death, the Erie Catholic School System will immediately implement established postvention procedures, which shall include methods for informing the school community, identifying and monitoring at risk youth, and providing resources and supports for students, staff, and families. The Erie Catholic School System will review any requests for memorials in accordance with ECSS and Diocesan policy.
• Resources for Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention:
A comprehensive set of resources for youth suicide awareness and prevention is to be accessible to students, parents and staff.
Available resources are:
For a list of County Crisis Resources:
Prevent Suicide PA: https://www.preventsuicidepa.org/webinars/
National Institute of Mental Health: resources to raise awareness about suicide prevention: NIMH » Shareable Resources on Suicide Prevention (nih.gov)
Prevent Suicide PA Learning: Free online courses including, “Suicide Prevention for Educators.” Prevent Suicide PA Learning (pspalearning.com) This program meets the required four hours of training.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: https://www.sprc.org/training includes online courses and virtual learning labs.
Jason Foundation: Educators can locate training as well as several valuable resources: Educator, Youth Worker, Coach - jasonfoundation.
The American Association of Suicidology: Offers a wide array of school resources: School Resources – American Association of Suicidology.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers this analysis: Youth Suicidal Behavior | USCCB