OK Dept. Of Mental Health Pushes For Suicide Prevention Education

Thursday, September 27th 2012, 7:21 pm
By: News 9

By Abby Broyles, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- As the Stillwater community is coping with the death of 13-year-old Cade Poulos, school districts in some Oklahoma counties are working to educate students about suicide prevention and implementing new curriculum in school.

This is actually the first semester to implement suicide prevention curriculum in schools for four Oklahoma counties through the state department of mental health. The lesson plans are designed for grades 6 through 12, funded by a federal grant.

Read more about the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Most schools have a crisis response plan, but the state department of mental health wants to make sure suicide prevention is part of that.

David Harris is the Prevention Program Manager for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

"The issues that contribute to someone thinking suicide is the only answer, those can start at a very early age and can be based on childhood trauma, family events, loss of a loved one, suicide in their family, and those can build over time," Harris said.

The curriculum has three parts: suicide prevention, intervention, and so-called "post-vention."

"In the post-vention curriculum for example, it talks about what to do in the first 24 hours after a crisis, what to do in the first 48 hours, what to do in 72 hours, communicating with the press, with the parents at the school, [and] communicating with the students," Harris said.

Harris says suicide prevention is complicated, and it takes schools and their communities working together to get comfortable talking about suicide.

"Because some people may say,'Hey, we didn't see any warning signs. This child seemed happy. He or she seemed to be in good spirits.' And maybe there's somebody in the picture who heard or saw something and wasn't aware, hasn't had suicide prevention training," Harris said.

Read more about the Society For Prevention Of Teen Suicide.

Schools in Oklahoma, Tulsa, Pittsburg and Cleveland Counties are now using the curriculum. The state gets nearly a half-million dollars in federal funding through the grant. Part of that also goes for training at colleges and universities through the state board of regents.

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health has other resources families can use at home.For more information call 1 (800) 273-8255 or visit their website.