Whittier Union High School District recently received the inaugural Lifesaver Award from the Los Angeles County Child and Adolescent Suicide Review Team (CASRT) for its robust and proactive suicide prevention protocols.
Whittier Union school psychologist and CASRT co-chair Stephanie Murray presented the award to Superintendent Martin Plourde during the Nexus Conference hosted by the Interagency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect in November.
“The Lifesaver Award is a testament to the hard work, dedication and innovative practices developed by our Student Support Services team, and I could not be prouder of their efforts to provide our students and families with the support and resources they need in times of crisis,” Plourde said.
Whittier Union established its districtwide Student Well-Being Program in 2014 to address challenges impacting student health and wellness, increase school-site support and provide resources for families. The program includes two licensed clinical social workers, a school psychologist and internships for college students working toward social work degrees.
Staff subsequently received Suicide Prevention Ongoing Resiliency Training and established a centralized method of districtwide risk assessment and information sharing. School counselors, psychologists and social workers are trained to assess and intervene when there is a concern regarding suicide risk. Parent training is also offered.
Each spring, Whittier Union holds a “Campus Watch” day during which comprehensive high school administrators and counselors meet with their counterparts from the partner school districts. Together, they discuss the academic, safety and socio-emotional needs of incoming students. Additionally, Whittier Union has supported several L.A. County districts in developing protocols and training staff in their implementation.
The California Legislature in 2016 passed Assembly Bill 2246, which mandates student suicide prevention and intervention policies for every California school district. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress by calling 1-800-273-8255.