Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training Guidance
Section 12 of An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence1 amended G.L. c. 71 by adding Section 95 (a) which requires all public school districts and commonwealth charter schools to provide at least 2 hours of suicide awareness and prevention training every 3 years to all licensed school personnel, subject to appropriation. In addition, newly hired licensed personnel would be trained within 6 months of being hired. The statute states that the training shall be provided within the framework of existing in-service training programs offered by the department or as part of required professional development activities. Since additional funding for this training has not been appropriated, the training is not required. Nonetheless, the Department is providing this guidance to assist districts interested in designing comprehensive professional development on this issue.
Teachers and other licensed personnel play an extremely important role in suicide prevention. They have day-to-day contact with many students, some of whom have problems that could result in self-harm and/or serious injury, or even suicide. Teachers, in particular, are well-positioned to both observe the behavior of students and to take action when it is suspected that a student might be at risk for self-harm or harm to others.
This guidance was developed using a Safe and Supportive School Framework2. Schools and districts are encouraged to consider using this framework as an organizing tool to provide suicide awareness and prevention training within the context of creating a safe and supportive environment for students. The Framework identified 6 key areas that should be addressed in school wide initiatives such as suicide awareness and prevention training plans.