At CHAMPS, we are committed to helping students achieve the highest expression of their creative potential, through academic and other programs. We also care deeply about the overall well-being of each student. In compliance with regulations, we publish here our manual for handling an extreme personal crisis, including practices for handling indications of suicidal thoughts or actions.
CHAMPS CRISIS Response Manual
Crisis Involving Suicide
- If the suicide attempt is on site, contact 911. Consult with Child Crisis Services (if appropriate) at (800)-854-777124 Hour Bilingual, Valley Coordinated Children's Services at (818) 708-4500
- Convene the Crisis Response Team; review situation, assign/remind members of their roles, and create action plan.
- Notify the Principal
- Verify information regarding the suicide attempt by contacting appropriate sources. Determine what information can be shared.
- If suicide is completed, refer to protocol for crisis involving death.
- Prepare formal statement to faculty/staff: Remember CONFIDENTIALITY issues may apply.
- Convene emergency staff meeting.
- Prepare formal statement or announcement for students in classroom setting (NEVER announce a crisis over the intercom system or at a school assembly).
- Establish support activity plan for all students and staff impacted by the crisis.
- Prepare and plan for distribution of letter to families if suicide attempt becomes public knowledge.
- Identify students, staff and parents likely to be most affected by news.
- Assess need for additional community resources.
- Assign trained staff and/or community professionals to specific duties necessitated by the nature of the crisis and staff and student response.
- Provide coverage for absent/substitute teacher, if suicide was by a teacher.
- Update faculty on a regular basis, including processing opportunities.
- Notify Attendance Office to forestall intrusive calls home; arrange for removal of personal belongings from school site.
- Debrief Crisis Response Team and assess procedures. Student Re-entry Checklist: Consider a comprehensive plan if the student who attempted suicide is to return to school.
- Designate a school contact person for student re-entry following a suicide attempt.
- Plan when and where the student will check-in with site contact.
- Anticipate the need for additional counseling. Consider what resources are available for onsite counseling support if needed.
Obtain an authorization to release medical information to coordinate with outside service providers.
- Inform necessary teachers regarding the student's absence and re-entry plan. Teachers should work with the student to make up missed assignments.
- If key students are affected by the student's absence, provide them with appropriate resources and/or information.
- Clarify the plan for regular contacts with a parent/guardian if appropriate.
Clarify with student's family regarding what information (if any) they feel appropriate to share with student's peers/classmates and teachers.
- Plan/coordinate with School Health Programs staff if needed.
Suicide Contagion Probable High Risk Students After a Suicide
While many students have the resources to cope with tile emotions that may arise after a member of a community dies by suicide, it is important to remember that all students, staff, and parents/caregivers, will need some attention in addressing the loss. If a school community experiences a death by suicide, there is a heightened risk that it may contribute to further suicidal ideation or suicide. It is imperative that school staff identify other students who may be at-risk, and access additional assistance to keep students safe.
- Any students who participated in any way with the completed suicide: helped write the suicide note, provided the means, were involved in a suicide pact, etc.
- Any students who knew of the suicide plans and kept it a secret
- Siblings, other relatives or best friends
- Any students who were self-appointed therapists to the deceased student and who had made it their responsibility to keep the student alive
- Any students with a history of suicidal threats and attempts
- Any students who identified with the victim's situation
- Any students who had prior reason to feel guilty about things they had said or done to the student prior to the student's death
- Any students who observed events which they later learned were indicative of the victim's suicidal intent
- Other students in need of support who now see suicide as a viable alternative Probable High Risk Times
- Anniversary of the suicidal death
- For the families of the deceased: birthdays, holidays, expected graduation date, etc.
- School wide events: athletic events or performances, graduation where the deceased student would have had a role, etc.
Indicators of Potential Suicide
The following list of risk indicators and symptoms will assist the school staff in determining the seriousness and level of risk of a suicide threat: High Risk Indicators Symptoms
- Previous suicide attempt
- Attempt at suicide
- Family history of suicide
- Attempt at suicide
- Specifically determined
- When questioned, expresses wish to suicide method die and indicates existing plan, available means, and specific time for completion
- Perceived resources
- Are there friends with whom to talk?
- Are parents/caregivers/other adults approachable?
- Giving away possessions
- Distributes favorite belongings to special people saying good-bye
- Recent loss or threat of loss
- Extreme grief or trauma experienced in tragic loss (death, suicide, divorce, separation, breakup of relationship, change in family status or residence)
- Negative change in health or appearance
- Chronically self-destructive
- Drugs, used excessively, including lifestyle alcohol
- High-risk activities
- Careless disregard for personal safety
- Self-inflicted scratches and marks General Indicators Symptoms
- Verbalizing suicide threats
- Makes comments such as, "I don't want to live any longer," or ''You'll be better off without me"
- Says that friends and family will not miss him/her
- Threatens to hurt or kill self
- Collecting information on or making inquiries regarding lethal weapons, methods pills and other methods used by suicide victims
Indicators of Potential Suicide General Indicators Symptoms
- Expressing hopelessness, anger
- Expresses that no one cares at self, helplessness
- Indicates feelings of failure and low self esteem
- Has increased conflict with family, friends or authority figures
- Is overwhelmed with current stress factors and states, "I can't handle it"
- Lacks ability to solve problems
- Feels like quitting or running away from the world
- Feels humiliated, experiencing loss of face
- Expresses themes of death
- Conversation, writing, reading selections depression and art work focus on death and morbidity
- Relates frightening dreams or fantasies
- Evidences acute personality
- Withdraws from family, friends changes or activities
- Becomes sexually promiscuous
- Is newly aggressive and irritable
- Has frequent crying spells, temper tantrums or extreme moodiness
- Loses interest in appearance and grooming
- Runs away from home
- Unable to concentrate, attend to or decline or improvement in complete tasks academic, athletic or other
- Chronically tardy or truant performance activities
- Fidgety, hyperactive or hypoactive in the classroom
- Shows drastic drop or rise in grades
- Evidences physical symptoms
- Appears apathetic, lethargic, bored depression or extremely fatigued
- Sleeps excessively or has insomnia
- Suffers markedly increased or decreased appetite
- Displays tension, nervousness or anxiety
Preventing Teen Suicide Know the Warning Signs
What issues might make a teen more likely to attempt suicide? The risk factors for teen suicide include untreated depression, pressures to overachieve, sexual identity crises, serious conflicts with family and friends, abuse, and problems with school or the law. Many youth attempt suicide while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Look out for these warning signs for suicide in teens:
Talking about or making plans for suicide-even jokingly
- A focus on themes of death
- Feelings of hopelessness, often with anxiety
- Giving away prized possessions
- Persistent boredom and/or difficulty concentrating
- Complaints of physical problems that are not real
- Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping habit
- Unexplained, unusually severe, violent, or rebellious behavior
- Withdrawal from family or friends
- Running away
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Unexplained drop in quality of schoolwork
- Unusual neglect of appearance
- Drastic personality change
- Threatening or attempting to kill oneself
Many youth who consider suicide simply want to find a way to end their pain or to solve a problem. They do not necessarily want to die, but they have not found another solution. If your child makes casual remarks about suicide, or if you suspect your child might be thinking about suicide, take action immediately!