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Thursday, February 24 • 12:30pm - 1:45pm
A Protocol for Schools to address Suicidal Ideation amongst Students

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In recent years the importance of child and adolescent mental health has been discussed in many forums, including within the education sector. Interest in mental health supports has also increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As well, suicide has been identified as a leading cause of death for Canadian youth and building mental health capacity is a responsibility of all human services sectors to comprehensively address suicide prevention and intervention.

School staff play a vital role in the identification of mental health concerns, including the identification of risk for suicide and supporting youth to seek help when expressing suicidal thoughts or behaviour. Over the course of a career working within a school setting, it is not unusual for a school staff to experience an instance when they need to meet the immediate mental health needs of a student and/or maintain their safety. However, school staff often report feeling uncertain about how to best support a student in these circumstances.

A School-based Suicidal Ideation Response Protocol (SI Protocol) was launched in August 2019 by Alberta Health Services and is highlighted in the Alberta Government’s Pathways to hope: best practices in suicide prevention for Alberta schools (April 2020). It offers a standardized and structured approach for all roles within a school, whether school teachers/support staff, school mental health providers, or school administrators. The protocol contains a step-by-step process for responding to a distressed student, with activities that are appropriate to the person’s role and training. Implementation of the SI Protocol is supported by online training (freely available through the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Online Resources for Educators website; https://more.hmhc.ca).
The SI Protocol can be adopted by an individual school staff member, a school, or across an entire school authority. Between 2019 and 2021 a number of school authorities across Alberta have implemented the SI Protocol. They have provided positive feedback about its impact to date.

This presentation will provide an overview of the SI Protocol, describe the benefits experienced by early adopters, and highlight the evaluation findings to date. It will also outline the results of recent research related to completely suicide risk assessments virtually and what to pay particular attention to.

This presentation will benefit you if you:
- are interested in support child and adolescent mental health in education settings,
- are interested in improving your comfort or confidence in addressing suicidal ideation,
- want a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities within a school setting related to suicide intervention, and
- want to provide the most appropriate response for a student and their family.

avatar for Chris Pawluk

Chris Pawluk

Psychologist, Hexagon Psychology
Chris is a Registered Psychologist in private practice in Airdrie, Alberta. Over the years, Chris has worked with universities across Canada to facilitate research projects and offer high-quality trainings for teachers, psychologists, speech pathologists, and occupational therapists... Read More →
avatar for Emily Matejko

Emily Matejko

Project Manager, HOPELab University of Calgary
Emily joined the HOPELab Research Team in August 2019 after graduating with an MA in counselling psychology from McGill University. Emily worked one-on-one with clients for 7 years helping them identify and overcome maladaptive relationship beliefs and patterns. Her research interests... Read More →

Thursday February 24, 2022 12:30pm - 1:45pm MST
Zoom 38