Secondary teachers in the Glendale Unified School District must take part in mandatory training about suicide awareness this school year, specifically addressing youth with mental disabilities, those facing homelessness or those who are part of the LGBTQ community.
The training comes after Assembly Bill 2246 put forth a mandate requiring school districts adopt a policy on suicide prevention for students in seventh through 12th grades, local school officials said last week.
As a result, the Glendale Unified school board adopted its 2017-18 Suicide Prevention Policy last week after hearing a presentation by Scott Anderle, principal of Rosemont Middle School and Karen Carlson, coordinator of the district’s mental health services.
The policy takes on a three-pronged approach that includes a training video developed by the district’s mental-health services team, a booklet with suicide-prevention guidelines and procedures for secondary schools and a requirement to create crisis teams at each school site.
Though the bill focuses on secondary teachers, district officials said they are also putting together a booklet specifically for elementary teachers.
During the meeting, Carlson said the training video will be released next month and will be available to parents, coaches and local residents. The video will illustrate how teachers can recognize warning signs in students who may be considering suicide.
“We’re not expecting our teachers to come out of the training as trained clinicians but [knowing] that they can have an important impact in students’ lives,” Carlson said during the presentation.
While board member Shant Sahakian said he commended the new policy, he added that he wants to see more focus placed on LGBTQ students because the district has already made efforts to address issues such as homelessness.
He underscored the importance of promoting the district’s new mobile app, where parents can submit tips about bullying in the district.
Board member Armina Gharpetian suggested district staff host workshops for parents to help educate them about suicide awareness.
Earlier this year, parents and district staff were invited to awareness training sessions held at Clark Magnet High School and Rosemont Middle School after the release of “13 Reasons Why,” a popular Netflix series about a teenage girl who leaves behind audio tapes explaining who led her to commit suicide.
Carlson said the meeting was “filled to the brim” with a “big multicultural audience,” who she said asked good questions.
In 2012, district officials introduced a revised draft version of its antibullying policy to address cyberbullying, investigation of complaints and intervention after Drew Ferraro, a 15-year-old student, killed himself by jumping off a three-story building at Crescenta Valley High School during lunch.