Florida School Toolkit for K-12 Educators to Prevent Suicide

PREFACE The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and has created much uncertainty in our lives. It follows that there is apprehension about mounting pressures and an escalating potential for suicide. Even under normal circumstances, youth suicide is an acute concern. The Florida School Toolkit for K–12 Educators to Prevent Suicide (Florida S.T.E.P.S.) was developed to assist schools with suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. School administrators and school mental health professionals (SMHPs), including school counselors, social workers, and school psychologists, are critical leaders in driving suicide prevention efforts. Collaboration between schools and community and state suicide prevention resources is also fundamental. Florida S.T.E.P.S. takes a comprehensive approach by including information, tips, and tools that can help you forge coalitions, adjust or enhance existing plans, or create new ones. Suicide prevention is an ongoing process. Familiarity with legislative changes is key, although they may not all apply to private schools. For example, beginning in the 2019–2020 school year, Senate Bill 7030 requires that Florida schools administer suicide screening before requesting implementation of the Baker Act. The updated Florida legislation also provides schools the opportunity to become Suicide Prevention School Certified. Considering these changes, Scott Poland, Ed.D., and doctoral student Catherine Ivey, M.S., interviewed key suicide prevention experts and stakeholders from across the state before writing this guide. The author and contributor further recognize there is a statewide Suicide Prevention Coalition, and they reviewed the University of South Florida guide, created in 2003 and updated in 2012, as well as emerging suicide incidence data and youth suicide trends. In addition, some of the challenges as well as potential opportunities presented by social media platforms are explored. School districts are encouraged to use the tools in the Florida S.T.E.P.S. in any way that proves helpful. School professionals who are using or have used Florida S.T.E.P.S. are asked to share with us their suicide prevention advancements. Everyone needs to know that suicide is preventable. iii