What to Consider
GoGuardian wants schools and districts to be successful in their support of students’ safety and mental health. Here is a list of things schools and districts can consider when getting started.
Explore the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Model School Policy for actionable steps to support school personnel, sample language for student handbooks, suggestions for involving parents and guardians in suicide prevention, and guidance for addressing in-school suicide attempts.
Reference Suicide in Schools: A Practitioner’s Guide to Multi-level Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention (School-based Practice in Action), by Dr. Jonathan Singer, Scott Poland, Terri Erbacher.
Communications & Protocols
- Determine your school’s communication plan for notifying parents/guardians about your Beacon deployment, including your school’s plan for managing alerts and what parents should expect in the case of an alert regarding their child/student.
- Develop a shared understanding among stakeholders that your school and GoGuardian’s Beacon technology take seriously their obligations to protect the privacy of personal student information.
- Develop a shared understanding among stakeholders about when to share alerts without parental consent in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”). FERPA states “If [an] educational agency or institution determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals, it may disclose information from education records to any person whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals” (34 CFR Part 99.36).
- Determine the individuals who are authorized to be on your district’s escalation list. For example, while teachers are not typically authorized employees, school counselors and administrators are typically appropriate individuals to include on your list.
- If your district would like to include third parties (non-school district employees) on your escalation list, those third parties should only be ones authorized by your district through a contractual relationship to share student information in accordance with FERPA (and any other applicable law).
- In addition, when family members or guardians of students may be employed by your school in a mental health or student safety capacity, consider whether it would be appropriate for this staff member to be on the escalation list and potentially receive an alert for a student with whom they are personally connected.
- Determine your district’s communication plan with parents/guardians if you receive an alert. When there is reason to suspect the student is suicidal, schools may seek to notify the student’s parent or guardian. Suicide in Schools, Chapter 4 (pages 50-70)
- Example: “I was told your child was discussing and thinking about suicide. While they are denying it to me, I wanted you to be aware this was going on. If we see any other warning signs or gain further information, we will notify you immediately.” Suicide in Schools, Chapter 4 (pages 50-70)
- Develop a protocol to determine if it may be more of a risk to inform the parents based upon suspected neglect or abuse in the home, and school staff should instead call local child protective services instead. Suicide in Schools suggests calling local child protective services if the parent or guardian refuses to ensure the safety of the child or does not take the suicide risk seriously. Suicide in Schools, Chapter 4 (pages 58-62)
- Develop a protocol for how to determine risk and which actions to take. Chapter 6 of Suicide in Schools has resources on various risk levels and recommended actions for each risk level. Suicide in Schools, Chapter 6 (pages 94-117).
Parent & Guardian Resources
- Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide Parent Portal (http://www.sptsusa.org/parents/)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/) 1-800-273-8255
- American Association for Suicidology - Youth Suicide Warning Signs (https://www.youthsuicidewarningsigns.org/)
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (https://afsp.org/campaigns/talk-about-mental-health-awareness/teens-and-suicide-what-parents-should-know/)
- While bullying / cyberbullying may not lead to a healthy child feeling suicidal, it can exacerbate the instability and hopelessness of vulnerable teens already dealing with stress and mental health issues (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010) Suicide in Schools, Chapter 4 (pages 50-70)
- Cyberbullying should be included in a school’s internet/computer acceptable use policy as an infringement of school code, allowing schools to take action in a cyberbullying incident and intervention. Suicide in Schools, Chapter 4 (pages 50-70)
Disclaimer: This document is not intended to provide and does not constitute legal or medical advice, but is intended to share some areas schools and districts can think through in connection with their own legal and mental health teams as well as their own research when getting started with BeaconTM. This document also contains links to other third-party websites for convenience of the reader only. GoGuardian is not endorsing the contents of such third-party sites.