District 203’s Suicide Prevention Update

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Awareness and education, intervention, and postvention are the key components to District 203’s Suicide Prevention Program.

Importance of Prevention

“Data in the state of Illinois indicates that students are less likely to report suicidal thoughts, but have the same rate of planning, and a higher rate of suicide attempts when compared to students nationally – making prevention extremely important for us,” explained Dr. Christine Igoe, 203’s assistant superintendent for student services.

She gave a presentation about the program, and highlighted some updated procedures taking place in schools today.

Program Points

Those include universally screening students for suicide risk and depression, gatekeeper training for students and staff about warning signs and protective factors, and district-wide protocols for intervening with at-risk students.

“We had lots of schools who were doing these things and they all had their own system, and that system kind of stayed within the school,” said Dr. Igoe. “So what this allowed us to do was to get really centralized. And this is exactly how we’re going to respond, and this is where the information is, and this is how we share it, and this is how we make sure we don’t miss anybody.”

While these procedures are already being implemented, there are some are still in the works that fall under the postvention area of suicide prevention.

Recommendations for Postvention

“The final area of suicide prevention is postvention, which refers to all the programs, activities, and trainings which reduce risk, and promote healing after a suicide death,” she added.

Establishing a postvention feedback loop to debrief staff, parents, and students after a death, giving additional resources to the social-emotional curriculum, and adding more specialized crisis training for school-based mental health professionals are the next updates to be made to the program.

As administration reviews the updates, they’ll be implemented throughout the next two years.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.