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Suicide in Schools


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Table of Contents

Foreword Mennuti and Christner 1. Overview and Introduction 2. Training Gatekeepers 3. School Crisis Response Planning 4. School Liability and Implications for Best Practice 5. Evidence-Based Suicide Prevention Programs 6. Guidelines for Suicide Risk Assessment 7. Intervening with a Potentially Suicidal Student 8. The Aftermath: Immediate Suicide Postvention Step by Step 9. The Bereaved Student, School, and Community 10. Caring for the Caregiver: Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and Vicarious Traumatization 11. Comprehensive Case Study 12. Suicide and Schools: Resources

About the Author

Terri A. Erbacher, PhD, is a school psychologist for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit and a clinical assistant professor at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She has served on the executive boards of Philadelphia's chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Survivors of Suicide, and Pennsylvania's Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative. She was named Pennsylvania's school psychologist of the year in 2011 in recognition of her clinical practice and expertise in crisis response, suicide risk assessment and prevention, and traumatic loss. Jonathan B. Singer, PhD, LCSW, is an assistant professor at Temple University's School of Social Work, where his clinical and research interests focus on family-based interventions for suicidal and cyberbullied youth and the role of technology in prevention and intervention. He served as an advisor for the City of Philadelphia's Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force, Non-homicide Child Death Review, and Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative. He is the founder and host of the award-winning Social Work Podcast. Scott Poland, EdD, is a professor and co-director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. As a pioneer in school suicide prevention, he published his first book on the subject in 1989 and authored or coauthored every chapter on suicide for the National Association of School Psychologists's Best Practices in School Psychology volumes. He previously served as the prevention division director of the American Association of Suicidology and has testified about the mental-health needs of children before the US Congress.


"This book provides the exact kind of practical information school staff need to know, from how to tell a parent his or her child is contemplating a suicidal act to what the school staff member's responsibility is to the child, the parent, and to the community to address suicidal risk. When combined with the detailed case examples that really bring an extra dimension to the step-by-step guides, this book becomes a must-read for any professional working in a school environment." Thomas Joiner, PhD, Robert O. Lawton Professor of Psychology at Florida State University and director of the Laboratory for the Study and Prevention of Suicide-Related Conditions and Behaviors

"A comprehensive guide for all educators seeking the current evidenced-based, model practices for suicide prevention in schools. The `expert tips' reflect a wealth of knowledge gleaned from the front lines, where collaboration is essential between school psychologists, social workers, counselors, and their administrators. The authors paraphrase our national motto: `Everyone in the school plays a role in suicide prevention!'" Richard Lieberman, NCSP, school psychologist/consultant with the Los Angeles County Suicide Prevention Network

"Suicide in Schools is an essential, invaluable resource for all school personnel who are interested in preventing self-harm among their students. User-friendly, yet erudite, the book serves as a manual for evidence-based and innovative practices. If only this reference had been available when, as president of the National Association of School Psychologists, I issued a call to action to prevent suicide." Ralph E. (Gene) Cash, PhD, ABPP, professor at the Center for Psychological Studies and director of the School-related Psychological Assessments and Clinical Interventions Clinic at Nova Southeastern University

"This book provides a comprehensive examination of the many issues that schools face in working with suicidal youth and provides hands-on strategies that have been successfully implemented in school-based settings. The authors provide excellent case examples and practical information that aligns with clinical and research experts in the field of youth suicidal behavior. Finally, the authors structure their book to extensively explain how a multi-tiered approach can be implemented for suicide prevention, risk assessment, and management of youth suicidal behavior. This book provides exactly the help school personnel need to feel more confident in working with high-risk youth and thus is an invaluable resource for anyone working in the schools and/or working with them. It already has a place on my desk." James J. Mazza, PhD, professor and director of the school psychology program at the University of Washington

"The authors - Terri Erbacher, Jonathan Singer and Scott Poland - demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of relevant theory and empirical research, and draw from their own extensive clinical expertise... While most of this book attends to suicidal prevention, there is a section on how to deal with the aftermath of a school suicide. This is an area which I have rarely found documented and I believe any school professional dealing with a tragic event such as suicide would find this section invaluable... School mental health practitioners will benefit most from reading this book as it provides a comprehensive overview in a well-organised format of the aspects which need to be considered when working with children and young people who are struggling with suicide." Susan Scupham, psychotherapist, UK, British Journal of Guidance and Counselling

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