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SLCS counselors to launch suicide prevention campaign

Saranac Lake School Board learns program basics

Saranac Lake Middle School counselor Stacy Black helps give a presentation on the Saranac Lake Central School District’s suicide prevention protocol to board members during the Feb. 1 meeting.

Saranac Lake Middle School counselor Stacy Black helps give a presentation on the Saranac Lake Central School District’s suicide prevention protocol to board members during the Feb. 1 meeting. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— The Saranac Lake Central School District mental health team will be launching a suicide prevention campaign after spring break that will include training faculty and staff and educating students in grades 6-12.

Counselors gave a presentation on the district’s suicide prevention protocol during the Board of Education meeting Feb. 1 in the Petrova School library.

“It’s a solid response, and it takes into consideration responsibility on the part of the district and its employees as well as the confidentiality and the dignity of our students and their feelings,” said Middle School counselor Cindy Rockhill. “We take any and all mental health issues very seriously and recognize the importance of having staff knowing they have our support and our assistance.”

If a student threatens suicide or self-harm, there is a protocol in place to help that student and support the family, according to Middle School counselor Stacy Black. The mental health team — which consists of all the school district’s counselors, social workers and psychologists — recently reviewed and updated its procedures.

“Basically if a student makes any threat of self-harm or suicide, the faculty or staff member is to inform one of us in the building about it as soon as possible, immediately,” Black said. “And then what we do is we provide a suicide risk assessment screening for that student immediately.”

After the screening is complete, parents are notified, and, if necessary, mental health referrals are made. Sometimes they find that the student is not at risk; however, they will talk to the parent anyway. Appropriate mental health referrals to community resources may be made. Counselors also work with the community resource and parents upon the child’s return to school.

“The bottom line, as a group, is that we always err on the side of caution and the safety of our students,” Black said.

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