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Superintendent Prebles sends a message of support, offers mental health resources

The following is a message from Superintendent Scot Prebles:

Forest Hills parents, guardians, and community members:

While we understand that the use of the word “suicide” is difficult for many to hear, I want to be transparent and direct with our community that this situation is real. It has clearly impacted a large community that is asking questions and seeking resources. This is an emotional time. Our immediate focus is to address the needs of our students.

At this time, I want to communicate in more detail what we have in place to handle crises in our schools. Our district provides ongoing training for administrators, counselors, psychologists, central office staff, health aides, secretaries, custodians, and teachers to be trained in TECIP (Traumatic Event Crisis Intervention Plan). We utilize trained building core and district flight teams to support the level of crisis. Internal and external resources are identified according to the need and the situation. Experts delivering TECIP and trauma training have recommended that the individuals who have relationships with students are most effective in supporting the healing process and reducing trauma.

While our TECIP training allows us to respond to crisis and trauma, our partnership with expert organizations such as Grant us Hope and Child Focus allow us to consider proactive steps to prevent crisis and reduce future occurrence.

When a student dies as a result of a suicide, a primary concern is that this act may be repeated, which is known as contagion. Students who have been struggling may become more vulnerable. Suicide prevention requires a community effort and a persistence of hope and support. The following are recommendations for prevention that address the concern of contagion:

Prevention/Contagion Recommendations for Adults

  1. Be brave and be the person (family, church members, teachers,coaches, neighbors) who is there for someone who is hurting.
  2. Be careful not to memorialize the completed suicides. Support one another to prevent further loss and not glorify the act.
  3. Focus on each individual being important to us.
  4. Focus on teaching skills for social and emotional development to thrive in a rapidly changing society.  

Tips for Parents: Continuing to TALK to your kids.

How can kids support kids?  It may seem simple but it works!

  1. Ask each other genuinely, “How are you doing?” Check in with each other.  
  2. If you have concerns about someone’s safety, connect that person to a trusted adult. Don’t keep it a secret. You are being a good friend by getting them help.    
  3. Practice healthy self-care: exercise, draw, read, stay in some regular routines, etc.

This is a community health issue and the district is approaching this as such. It is important that we all keep these resources at hand.

Resources:

  • Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) at Children’s Hospital (available 24/7) 513-636-4124. This line is good for parents to consult with questions if you have concerns for your child.     
  • Child Focus office-based services call for appointment 513-752-1555
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress (24/7)
  • Psychiatric Emergency Services/Mobile Crisis Line 513-584-8577 provides 24/7 services to patients in crisis with psychiatric emergencies
  • UC after hours Crisis Line: 513-556-0648

The district will also coordinate a parent night with Dr. Jennifer Wright-Berryman, a suicidologist and professor at University of Cincinnati and partner with Grant Us Hope.  In addition, we will work collaboratively on building postvention plans to address our ongoing needs.

I thank you for your concern and support. I encourage us all to have a persistence of hope through this hard time. Our district has and will continue to be fully committed to use and reflect upon the best practices to meet the needs of our students.

Respectfully,

Scot T. Prebles