School Safety Experts Opine on Student Suicide Prevention Protocols

School Safety Expert WitnessThis academic affairs case involves a male student who committed suicide at a private boarding school. The student had a long history of emotional instability as well as a long disciplinary record, and was on academic probation at the school at the time of the incident. On the day of his suicide, the student had been informed that he was to be expelled from the school following a violent outburst towards his math teacher the previous day. The student then climbed to the fourth floor of the school’s library, which had an open atrium, and jumped to his death within the atrium. The library was, notably, the site of other successful and unsuccessful suicide attempts by other students in previous years.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What self-harm prevention protocols do you recommend for residential schools?
  • 2. Have you ever published or lectured on this subject?

Expert Witness Response E-142634

Self-harm and suicide prevention protocols are comprehensive and should address students at all stages of self-harm. In a residential setting, a safety plan should be in place for all residents, as well as a thorough intake risk assessment for self-harm and suicidal behavior. In addition, self-harm and suicide intervention strategies should be on the forefront of residential staff to ensure the safety and mental well being of the youth. With this student also being likely diagnosed with a learning disability, establishing therapeutic practices that demonstrates the students’ ability to implement the established self-harm/suicidal behavior protocol should be also documented. I have published in this area and provide workshops at the American Association of Suicidology on school-based suicide prevention/intervention and postvention at their annual conference. I have also written extensively about suicide prevention in schools, with several book chapters and articles in this area.

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