Title

Unwritten: Lessons Learned Managing a Youth Suicide Cluster

Location

Navarro

Focused Area

Youth-At-Risk in Urban Settings

Relevance to Focused Area

This workshop relates the work done by a school board, in collaboration with community partners, following a cluster of youth suicides. The lessons learned throughout this process focus on the importance of student voice, mental health and wellbeing within schools and community and school collaboration.

Primary Strand

Mental & Physical Health

Relevance to Primary Strand

The proposal for this workshop focusses on mental health and wellbeing, for youth, families and a whole community, in the aftermath of a cluster of youth suicides.

Brief Program Description

Educators play a major role as a community partner in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. These efforts are complicated by the role of social media and adolescents’ responses to suicide ideation and completed suicide. The school board team will offer reflections on a series of suicides in one city in Ontario, Canada, and the challenges in dealing with the aftermath including interactions with parents, adolescents, community leaders and the media.

Summary

In the spring of 2016, a cluster of youth suicides occurred within a community in southwestern Ontario, Canada. The school board and community partners responded to this crisis amidst significant criticism from some parents and youth within the community. External experts were consulted and provided support and advice in managing the postvention efforts. Over the course of this ongoing journey, we have learned many lessons that are not found in the literature or provided by the experts in the field. This session documents our learnings, in an authentic and vulnerable way, and shares the work we continue to do one year later.

Evidence

Resources such as "After a Suicide Toolkit for Schools", produced by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Resource Centre, and the "Suicide Postvention Toolkit" by Headspace, provide guidelines, processes and suggestions to assist schools in the aftermath of suicide.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Melanie Ferdinand, MSW, RSW is the Coordinator of School Counselling and Social Work Services for the Thames Valley District School Board. Prior to joining the board, she spent almost 25 years working with at risk youth in the correctional and youth justice sector, in administrative, program and direct service roles. She is a strong advocate for student voice and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

Karen Edgar, BA, MEd, Superintendent of Student Achievement, has been an educator for over thirty years, working as a school system administrator for twenty of them. She has worked with diverse school communities, in both urban and rural settings. Portfolio responsibilities have included Special Education, Culture for Learning (Mental Health and Well-Being, Equity and Inclusive Education, Safe Schools).

Gail Lalonde is the Mental Health Lead at the Thames Valley District School Board and a registered Social Worker. She is actively involved in various initiatives both at a board and provincial level in the promotion of mental health and well-being for students and staff. Gail has worked in education for the past 15 years, and has experience in a variety of community and education settings in supporting child and adolescent mental health.

Start Date

10-27-2017 8:15 AM

End Date

10-27-2017 9:30 AM

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Oct 27th, 8:15 AM Oct 27th, 9:30 AM

Unwritten: Lessons Learned Managing a Youth Suicide Cluster

Navarro

Educators play a major role as a community partner in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. These efforts are complicated by the role of social media and adolescents’ responses to suicide ideation and completed suicide. The school board team will offer reflections on a series of suicides in one city in Ontario, Canada, and the challenges in dealing with the aftermath including interactions with parents, adolescents, community leaders and the media.