Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Trauma Informed Practices: Resources for School Counselors

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Even though it was my first real week off of work, I suddenly remembered I had signed up for a class on the brain back in May (what was I thinking!).  Truly, it is difficult to drag yourself to a training that starts in the middle of the day and ends at 5:00!  However, I dragged myself to my car and made the 20 mile journey to take the first of three courses that was sponsored free by Georgia State University!

Note:  If you live in the state of Georgia, Georgia State University is offering a series of courses on Trauma and Brain Development. These courses include:

Trauma 101 and 201
Brain 101 and 201
Brain/Trauma Capstone
Community Team Building

Disclaimer: Since I am not an expert in neuroscience or trauma, the information shared in the blog was gathered in a three day training by Georgia State University.

The purpose of my post is to share with school counselors some of the information that I learned about the adolescent brain and the results of childhood trauma.  So before you start reading this post, let me give you some reasons why school counselors should be more informed about brain science and the fundamentals of childhood trauma.

Reason #1
.Jane Webber, Associate Professor of the New Jersey City University, says that trauma is not a one time event, but happens to students everyday.

Reason #2
Trauma has a direct impact on student learning (McInerney and McKlindon).

Reason #3
Counselors can provide care and safety to students who have faced complex trauma (McCorry).

Reason #4

Understanding the brain may help school counselors better understand how to help our most difficult students and parents.

What is the Big Deal About the Brain?

First, let's discuss the brain and why we, as school counselors, need to be educated on the latest science.

The impact of trauma (which includes such factors as poverty, violence, abuse, etc) can change the DNA of individuals and their children. This process is known as epigenetics.

What is Epigenetics?  Watch this video for a breakdown.

Students who are exposed to trauma over an extended period time have an overworked mid-brain which means they are wired for survival. These students often stay in survival mode (often act out) even when in they are in what we consider safe environments.

A thinking (learning) brain and a doing (high alert) brain cannot operate in the same space. If a student is on high alert, it is a difficult for him or her to learn.

When children experience positive relationships in a safe environment, resiliency can be developed. As school counselors, it is important to help students develop these strategies.
Resource alert!  Want to learn more about developing resiliency in students?  Check out this video from the Center of the Developing Child by Harvard University.

Also, check out the Resiliency quiz that can be given to your students by Nan Henderson.

How Does Trauma Impact Children and Adolescent Development?

The ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

This study was conducted in the late 90s by an insurance company and picked up by the CDC. The study contains some essential information which is important for school counselors to know.

1. Adverse childhood experiences impact the ability for students to multitask and keep up with their schoolwork.

2.  Keeping a job is more than just learning job skills or career awareness, but includes teaching soft skills like writing a resume, interviewing, communication, listening, conflict resolution, etc.

3. Many of our students' parents have an ACE score of 10 and often minimize their own trauma. In minimizing their own trauma, they will do the same for their children.

4. One out of every four students in schools are exposed to trauma.

5. The higher the ACE score the higher the death rate for these individuals.

Interested in knowing your ACE score? You can take the ACES Questionnaire to find out your  score.

Resource Alert!  Want to know more about the ACE Study, watch this short video.

How Trauma Impacts Our Students...Don't Underestimate its Impact!!

If you work in a school, you know that students may have many adverse experiences.  Here is a short list of traumatic situations for our students.

Traumatic Situations for Students

What is Child Trauma?
Although children will face traumatic situations in their lifetime (natural disaster or death), the type of trauma that rewires the brain occurs over and over. 

Here is a review of the types of trauma students will experience:
Acute: one single event (natural disaster or loss of parent)
Chronic: multiple events (child experiences a natural disaster in which the parent dies and because of the disaster child loses home).
Complex: chronic multiple events, whether real or perceived, that happen over time (child abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc.)  

What makes complex trauma most concerning is the absence of a caring adult (this is the biggest piece). Often, the caregiver has inflicted or neglected to protect the child from trauma.  
This is the type of trauma that changes the brain!!!
Responses to Stress by Students 
We all have stress in our lives.  It is important to be aware of the three types of stress that students can experience and when the stress can be damaging.
1.   Positive Stress: taking a test, getting ready for vacation, or participating in sports.
2.   Tolerable Stress: changing friendships, starting school, ending of school, test taking, or failing at a task.

3.   Toxic: poverty, living in violent environment, or abuse by a parent.

In toxic stress, the stress the student experiences does not go away because there is often a lack of support.

Stress Response Cycle

When students experience toxic stress, their brain experiences a change due to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Here are some changes students may experience:
  • Changes in behavior;
  • Always being in survival mode due to the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • A student's "doing and thinking" brain cannot act in the same space. In a crisis, a student's "doing" brain activates and his or her "thinking" brain ceases to operate (a student cannot control his or her stress hormone nor how his or her body feels);
  • For a student's body to self-regulate, his or her hippocampus must return the body to a normal state. This may take a longer period of time for some students;
  • After a stressful event, a student will usually seek support to help process the event;
  • Following the event, if a similar event occurs, a student's body may have the same stress response; 
  • The stress response remains in effect for children who have repeated trauma (even in safety).
How Does Trauma Impact Adolescents?

The impact of trauma depends on:

1.       The nature of the event (how traumatic the event).
2.      The child’s subjective response to it. Note: not all children process trauma in the same way.

How Our View of Trauma is Formed?

1.      Age and stage of child during the trauma.
2.      Victim or witness of the trauma.
3.      Relationship to victim and/or perpetrator.
4.      Perception of danger.
5.      What happened following the trauma?
6.      Past experiences with trauma.
7.      Presence and availability of nurturing relationships.
Effects of Trauma for Students
So now that we know the impact of trauma, let's discuss the effects on our students.
  • Attachment in relationships which can include the lack of boundaries or isolation (running away, lack of trust or too trusting, rejecting others, sabotaging relationships);
  • Biological changes in the brain;
  • Lack of mood regulation;
  • Dissociation, detachment, depersonalization, or withdrawal from the world. Examples include: daydreaming, lack of empathy, referring to self in 3rd person, antisocial behavior, false sense of reality, inappropriate dress, lack of belonging;
  • Lack of behavioral control, poor impulse, self destructive behavior, or destructive behavior (bullying, social isolation, profanity, lack of empathy, attention seeking, no boundaries, tantrums, impulsivity);
  • Cognition or learning problems;
  • Poor self-concept, body image, self esteem, shame, and guilt (this can be the one factor that school counselors can impact the quickest!) Examples include: over compensating (becoming bullies to keep people from hurting them), self harming behaviors, and at-risk behaviors;
  • Developmental issues which interfere with appropriate developmental skills. Examples include: speech delay, potty training, lack of cognitive abilities, problem solving skills, return to baby like behavior (immature).

How Can School Counselors Effectively Deal With Trauma in Students?

I always like to include a section in my posts about how school counselors can make a positive impact in students' lives.  Truly, when we deal with trauma in adolescents, it seems like a insurmountable task; however, it is not impossible to make a positive impact!
ASCA has provided a position statement that gives an overview of the role of the school counselor in promoting trauma sensitive environments. 
1.  Educate yourself!
First to assist students who are experiencing trauma, school counselors need to be trauma aware.  From this awareness, school counselors can recognize signs in their students. 
2.  Be involved in creating a trauma informed organization
Educate all involved parties (teachers, administrators, parapros, clerical staff) on trauma awareness and the disruptions caused by childhood trauma.
Encourage the infusion of trauma awareness in your organization's  practices/policies.
Collaborate with other agencies and professionals.
Provide social-emotional learning strategies and behavioral interventions.
Seek the best available science to support children and families recovery/resiliency.
The free downloadable ebook, Helping Traumatized Students Learn, provides an action plan for schools to develop a trauma sensitive perspective.  Download additional resources from Trauma Sensitive Schools.

An additional resource: Building a Trauma Aware School can produce guidance on how to build a trauma competent schools.

3. Build resilience in your students
Resilience is the capacity to prepare for disruptions, recover from shocks and stresses, and adapt and grow from a disruptive experience. Resilience is built over time as students interact with positive people and environments.

Three Factors for Building Resilience

Safety: the extent to which a child is free from fear and feels secure from physical and psychological harm.

Stability: the degree of predictability and consistency in the child's environment.

Nurturing: the extent to which an adult is available and able to consistently and sensitively respond to a child's needs.

Resource alert! Check out this resource on how school counselors can foster resilience in students.

4. Start small

One challenge, given by our trainer, was for school counselors to partner with a teacher to identify one traumatized student. The goal is to build resiliency skills in this student to help him or her develop the ability to overcome the trauma he or she has experienced.  If you want to take this challenge, consider downloading the free ebook from Trauma Sensitive Schools for a guide on how to build resiliency in your students.

Now that you have a bit of awareness about trauma and its impact on our students, you may want to  do a little professional development on your own. Here are some additional resources that you can explore to discover training, research, and more trauma informed practices.  As always, if you have resources you would like to share please feel free to comment!!


ASCA Trauma and Crisis Management Specialist
Creating a Trauma Informed School
Prepare Crisis Training-Training sponsored by the National Association of School Psychologists related to school crisis and prevention.
Trauma Training for Educators (Free)



Trauma Informed Practices
Child Trauma Toolkit
Safe Healthy and Ready to Learn
Helping Kids During Crisis
Transforming Trauma
Disaster Mental Health Resources from American Counseling Association

Trauma Webinars

Brain 101, Trauma 101, and Brain/Trauma 201

Georgia State University

Trauma 101
Trauma 201

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Deadly Teen Trends 2017: What School Counselors Should Know!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

There is no doubt that the teen brain is "wired" for risky behavior and researchers have the science to prove it!!  During the teen years, scientists have found that the brain expands in neurons during adolescence and then shrinks in adulthood.  During the expansion phase, teens are prone to try new experiences that may be considered too dangerous for an adult.  Involve peer pressure, social media and the temptation for risky behavior and you can have a recipe for disaster. In fact, researchers found that the peak of experimentation is around age 19 and generally decreases by the age of 24.

So there is no doubt that teen experimentation and risky behaviors are here to stay.  Therefore, it is important that school counselors are aware of the newest trends that may put students at risk or even six feet under.

Want to more about teen neuroscience from the experts?  Check out this video by Frontline called Inside the Teenage Brain.

My Top Five Trends for 2017

So what are the top trending risky behaviors for 2017 that school counselors need to know?  After combing social media, watching the news, and listening to the experts on teen behavior, here are my five top trends for this year.

Gray Death

Imagine a drug 10,000 times more potent than morphine!  In fact, if someone got a small amount on his or her body or clothes that person could potentially overdose.  This is the outcome of a powerful new drug that teens are taking called gray death.  What makes gray death so powerful and lethal?  The real power behind the drug is that the base of  the drug, heroin, is mixed with tranquilizers that are used to take down animals like elephants and other drugs like fentanyl (source: USA Today).

How does one identify the drug?  According to experts, the drug looks just like concrete because of its gray color and should be approached with extreme caution as it can be absorbed through the skin.  Unfortunately, gray death has been responsible for dozens of fatalities in several states including New York and North Carolina.

Gray Death  Source: CNN


Talk about an adrenaline rush!!  Think about standing in front of a moving object (i.e train, rhino, or busy highway) or leaning over an insanely tall skyscraper (like the tallest building in the world) to get that perfect selfie.  Well, this is what our youth are doing to take the concept of the selfie to the next level! This new trend is call the killfie and is making Instagram "light up".  All trends have a beginning and this craze was popularized when a Russian model was photographed leaning backward from a skyscraper in Dubai.

Source: thesun.co.uk
This trend isn't called the killfie for nothing!  Several deaths have been reported from all around the world from Russia (soldiers die from posing with a live grenade),  India (youth fell from a moving train), and Spain (participant was gored when he turned his back on a charging bull).

Source: WJLA News: Killfie


This is a disturbing trend where males (both gay and straight) are encouraging each other to secretly remove their condom during sexual intercourse.  The concept behind the removal...the right of a man to "spread his seed."  The risks behind stealthing are multifaceted and include: STDs, HIV, AIDS, pregnancy, and emotional trauma. Experts view stealthing as sexual assault and plausible rape.  See more about the sex trend from CBS News.

Source: New York Post

Suicide Games

Have you heard of the Blue Whale Game?  Although not reported in the United States, the game is supposedly very popular in Russia and other European nations.  Again, all trends (even false trends) have a beginning and this game was reported to have appeared after a picture of Russian teen, Yulia Konstantinova (aged 15), was posted shortly before she jumped to her death. News agencies like USA Today and Common Sense Media have reported little evidence of the existence of a real game, but warn that other suicide games have popped up from this idea.

What is the Blue Whale Game?  Participants are given a series of commands over 50 days to perform in an online community.  These tasks include carving images in their arm, watching horror movies, waking up at different times, and the final goal: death.  Although Snopes has not confirmed actual suicides linked to the game, this is something for adults to really watch in teens.

 Synthetic marijuana

According to CNN, one in ten teens and young adults have used synthetic marijuana.  The Centers for Disease Control reported that students who use synthetic were more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, violence, and risky behaviors.  In addition to risky and violent behaviors, the health problems these young people are facing are pretty extreme.  Some medical issues include: seizure, damage to the heart, stroke, psychosis, aggression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and even death.   The lead researcher for this study believes schools should include synthetic marijuana in their prevention strategies.

Unfortunately, I can speak to experiencing the effects of synthetic marijuana in my own family.  A very close family member was staying with me during Spring Break.  Every morning before I left, I would go upstairs and check on my kids and my guest to make sure everyone was okay.  That particular morning I went to check on Jake (not his real name), but he was not there.  After searching the house and looking outside, there was no Jake!  In a panic, I finally discovered that a window was cracked in my dining room.  Frantically, I went back upstairs and woke my kids to have them start looking for Jake. We called his cell, we called his friends, and we were getting ready to call the police when I decided to go outside one more time. Out of the corner of my eye, there was a figure hiding in the bushes and then it ran behind the house.  By this time, I am really freaking out and I went back inside to call the police.  I started dialing the police when Jake appeared in the living room (he must have opened another window to get back in).  He totally looked a mess...his sneakers were muddy (on my carpet), his hair had grass in it, his face was fire engine red, and his eyes were big as saucers. Immediately, I began to interrogate the boy, but he was only able to answer in gibberish.  Okay, this kid has taken something, but I don't know what! Instantly, I was concerned and noticed that he began to pace, get irritable and hostile.  Long story short...we found out that he had taken synthetic marijuana.  Sometime later, Jake was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety as a result of his use.

Want to see the effects of synthetic marijuana?  Check out this video.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

What Can School Counselors Do?

Common Sense Media has some suggestions for parents on how to help their teens, but I think these suggestions can be helpful to school educators as well.

1.  Educate students and parents about these trends and their dangers.  Not talking about them can open students to trying them out of curiosity.

2.  Challenge students to think about the risks of trying the behavior.  Problem solving with teens is very powerful!

3.  Talk to teens about the influence of social media and why the student wants to try the behavior after seeing it on in the internet.

4.  Keep abreast of new trends and how they may affect your students' health, behavior, and academic performance.

5.  Promote responsible internet safety at school and home.  Check out tips from Common Sense Media on internet Safety.

Source: Common Sense Media

Have a trend you are concerned about in your school?  Please share!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Suggested Summer Reading for High School Counselors

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

In exactly seven days, summer will be here!!  While I have plans for relaxation, it is also a time for learning.  Each year, I meticulously plan my summer staff development which often includes potential training, conferences, webinars, and recommended books.  This summer I will not be not be able to attend any conferences, due to my busy schedule and limited funds, but I have a lot of books that I plan to read and incorporate into my practice.  So, I would like to share my list of recommended summer readings for high school counselors.  As always, if you have additional recommendations, please SHARE!!

My Recommended List of Books for High School Counselors

Author and Social Worker, Bill Eddy, has written about a technique that can be applied in any type of communication (email, texts, verbal communication, etc.). This technique can help school counselors get along with difficult parents, staff members, and others anywhere in the workplace or in life..
This technique, known as BIFF, was designed to help anyone respond quickly and civilly to those who treat them rudely. BIFF stands for Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. Eddy's book gives over 20 examples of BIFF responses and additional tips to help people deal with high-conflict individuals.
You can use this method to help your students with a BIFF response – by asking 10 simple questions to make it even more effective.

This book provides a complete introduction to implementing cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with 6- to 18-year-olds. The book includes the following information:

*Incorporates the latest advances in CBT with youth and gives increased attention to cultural issues.
*Chapter on working with patients with autism spectrum disorder.
*Chapter on cognitive-behavioral family therapy.
*Pull-out boxes throughout that summarize key points.
*Epilogue on developing clinical wisdom.

The book also includes reproducible forms and handouts.

Great book for those who work with students with mental illness. This book chronicles the story of a teen who survived a fall from the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Use data to make a difference in your school counseling programs! Hatch's book will show school counselors how to:
  • Develop a robust counseling curriculum that supports the Common Core Standards and drop-out prevention
  • Replace “random acts of guidance” with intentional, well-timed interventions that are based on student needs
  • Measure progress through pre- and post-assessments
  • Deliver compelling reports that demonstrate your program’s impact

Impact Therapy is a form of brief therapy that emphasizes making counseling sessions clear, concrete and thought provoking. I want to know more!!

MENTAL HEALTH INTERVENTIONS FOR SCHOOLS provides a collaborative "how to" guide for both preventive and intervention-oriented counseling in school settings. The book covers disorders that can negatively impact learning.

Written by a real-life School Counselor, this book helps School Counselors learn to use Motivation Interviewing as a counseling technique.

This book explains what has to happen in a school in order for it to become truly restorative. Divided into three sections, the book provides an overview of restorative practice in schools, examines the process of understanding and managing change, and provides steps for achieving a restorative culture

Bill Eddy lays out a simple, proven method to shift the conversation from the past and blame, to the future and problem solving in just 30 seconds. What‘s more, almost anyone can use it, school counselors, students, staff members, etc.

See how the tenets of Nonviolent Communication are applied to the school environment. This book provides exercises, sample stories, and role-playing activities for the reader.

Other Recommended Sites for High School Counselors Regarding Suggested Summer Reading

Books School Counselors Should Read Over the Summer by The Helpful School Counselor

Counselor Created

Youth Light

Past Posts from My Blog With Summer Suggestions

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What to Do When You are the Last Person on the List?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Over the last week, I have really wanted to respond to the Netflix Series "13 Reasons Why". However, when I tried to write something, at least seem half way intelligent, I would just stare blankly at the computer.  So I thought...

Okay, just give it up.  All the great commentary has been taken and everyone has said what you would have liked to say. Let it go!

That was it...I was satisfied with reading other counselors' blog posts, accepting the statements made by experts, and viewing the webinars for educators. Then, last night happened!!  As I was searching Pinterest (again, my fav!), I saw something that was utterly disturbing to me as a school counselor.  It was a meme displaying the school counselor in the series, Mr. Porter, and at the bottom the teen had written, I hate Mr. Porter! He could have saved Hannah.  Now, I am going to be honest and tell you that I have not watched the series.  I have seen a few clips, read a lot of great blog posts, attended a webinar hosted by Kognito, and read the Tips for Educators (that is my extent of interest at this time of the year). However, I was very curious to read the dialogue between Hannah and Mr. Porter and you know what, Hannah blamed him too.

The now infamous Mr. Porter
In the script, here is how the dialogue starts.  First a little background, if you are clueless, like me about the story line...

Hannah is recording her last tape which includes the meeting with the school counselor.  At this point you can hear her voice dramatically say...

"One . . . last . . . try.  I’m giving life one more chance. And this time, I’m getting help. I’m asking for help because I cannot do this alone. I’ve tried that.  Of course, if you’re listening to this, I failed. Or he failed. and if he fails, the deal is sealed. Only one person stands between you and this collection of audiotapes: Mr. Porter.  Mr. Porter, let’s see how you do." 

Source: Netflix
Fast forward...after the disappointing meeting with Mr. Porter, Hannah leaves and has made her decision to end her life.  

"I’m walking down the hall.  His door is closed behind me. It’s staying closed.  He’s not coming. He’s letting me go. I think I’ve made myself very clear, but no one’s stepping forward to stop me."

In her desperation for someone to help her in her darkest hours, the last person Hannah reaches out to is her school counselor, Mr. Porter.  Unfortunately, we know what happens to Hannah in the story and Mr. Porter becomes the scapegoat (along with 12 other people). I am not here to judge the character, but I am concerned how at-risk students will view school counselors after watching this show. Unfortunately, this is not great PR for school counselors and I would dare to say that there are actual Mr. Porters who really exist. 

My Goal for This Post...  

The purpose of my post is not to lay blame on the school counselor in this series. In his experience or lack of experience, he may have thought he did his best.  He had a limited amount of knowledge and may have believed his actions were appropriate for the situation (although I vehemently disagree!). Could he have done more? Of course!! Since there are many things we don't know about this character, we can only speculate why he made the decision he made that day.  Unfortunately, the failure of his character to act appropriately is making a big impact on how at risk students may see the school counselor in the future.

Why Do Counselors Like This Exist?

Why do professionals like Mr. Porter exist?  It is not that they don't care because the counselor seemed genuinely interested in what Hannah had to say.  For instance, he wanted to know how she felt, he encouraged her to keep talking about the reasons for coming to see him, he was solution focused, and he picked up on her cue about her wanting to kill herself.  Also, he seemed to have a good rapport with Hannah and she knew she could come to him (she even laughed a few times).  He knew something was wrong and tried to convince her to stay. HOWEVER, there were many things he did not do as a professional school counselor.  For instance, he did not provide informed consent to her regarding the limits of confidentiality, he did not contact her parents regarding the sexual assault that she reluctantly told him about (he wanted to bring her attacker in the office!) AND, most importantly,  he did not ask the question, "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"

There are several theories that I have for Mr. Porter's lack of professionalism that I will not go into in this post, but I believe there are ways to prevent yourself from falling into this negative stereotype. If you were someone's 13th person and you believed that he or she was going to kill him/herself, what would you do? Well, this is what I want to talk about in this post.  How to prepare yourself for those Hannahs who will walk into your office at a moment's instance whether you are in the middle of testing, schedule changes, paperwork, or you are eating lunch.  It is imperative that we are ready to meet the challenge as a professional school counselor!

13 Ways to Avoid the Mr. Porter Stereotype:

1.  First of all, it is okay to feel uncomfortable when addressing student suicide.  In fact, most experienced school counselors will admit that they are uneasy when it comes to handling these delicate situations.  If you feel uncomfortable and uncertain,  first just admit it  Then ask for and seek professional development in suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention. One great place to start your training, especially if you are inexperienced, is the Life Trilogy for Suicide Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention.

2.  Find someone you trust to consult with on a regular basis.  I have a list of professionals that I regularly speak to about specific cases and I need to know if I am wrong!

3.  Know your district policy for handling suicide.  It is important to know what to do if you suspect a student is thinking about killing him/herself.  My suggestion is to find that policy, print it out, and keep it close to you.  Make sure you ask questions and get clarity about your role in the protocol.

4.  Help others understand their role in suicide awareness.  This can include teaching students how to recognize the signs of suicide during classroom guidance and informing staff members of signs in staff development.

5.  If you believe a student may be suicidal, call his or her parents and DON'T LET THEM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT!!

Two court cases make this very clear...

 Eisel v. Montgomery County Board of Education (1991)

In this case, a student was referred to the school counselor for making remarks that she was going to kill herself.  Two school counselors talked to the student and the student denied making any suicidal comments.  Unfortunately, the counselors did not contact the parents nor did she notify the administration and the student committed suicide later in the day.  The Eisel case determined that school counselors have a special duty to protect student from harm.

Rogers v. Christina School District, et. al (2013)

A student spoke to his school counselor about his suicidal feelings and his suicide attempt two days before.  The counselor did not contact the student's grandparents about his attempt and later in the day he hung himself at home.  The Rogers case determined that the counselor was negligent in not contacting the family.  

6.  Join the local suicide coalition and build connections with local mental health clinicians.  I am a member of the local coalition and I have learned so much from being involved in this group.  Also, I have found resources, training's, and opportunities to grow as a professional.

7.  Keep an updated list of local resources and mental health clinicians to give to students and parents.  These resources can also include the National Suicide Hotline and Text Line.

8.  Even if you have had training, continue with advanced training to train your students and staff.  One such training is Gatekeeper Training which helps staff and students recognize the signs of suicide, ask the important question, and refer to school based mental health professionals.  Another great training is Youth Mental Health First Aid which teaches adults, who work with youth, how to look for signs of mental illness. 

9.  Seek training in suicide screenings like the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. 

10.  Be proactive and contact parents of students who present signs of depression and give them contact information of mental health professionals. This is a great step to prevent contagion!!

11.  Train students for peer support.  One great peer training in suicide prevention and awareness is Sources of Strength.

12.  Simply just ask the question if you suspect a student is going to kill him/herself.  I know it is scary, but what is more scary is that the student follows through like Hannah.

13.  Educate yourself by viewing webinars,  reading guidance from experts in suicide awareness, and join professionals communities.  I have attached many resources that may be helpful for you as you get started.

Resources from the Experts:

13 Reasons Why Talking Points

13 Reasons Why: Considerations for Educators

Helping Students Manage Negative Thoughts Worksheet

Parents: Talk to Your Kids About 13 Reasons Why

Some Great Blog Posts from Other School Counselors!

Counselor Up - 13 Reasons Why School Counselor Should Be Talking About this Show

The School Counselor Kind - Responding to 13 Reasons Why

There are More Than 13 Reasons Why Your Life Matters

Additional Suicide Resources:

After a Suicide Toolkit for Schools 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 

Ask for Help Cards 

100 Ways to Make It Through the Next Five Minutes 

Bullying and Suicide 

Center for Suicide Prevention - Tattered Teddies Handbook 

Depression and Suicide 

Gay and Suicidal 

Guidance of Students Returning to School After a Suicide Related Absence 

Lifeline Suicide Prevention E-Cards 

Lifeline Trilogy

Memorials After a Suicide  

Mental Health First Aid

More Than Sad 

My3app - Suicide Prevention App

Not My Kid - Video for parents

Prevent the Attempt  - What to say if your organization has an online presence.  

Preventing Suicide A Toolkit for High Schools

Question, Persuade, Refer - Gatekeeper training.

School Suicide Prevention Accreditation

Signs of Suicide  - Secondary Suicide Prevention Program.

Sources of Strength  - School program to prevent suicide.

Substance Use and Suicide Prevention 

Suicide Awareness Poster 

Suicide Isn't About Wanting to Die 

Suicide Help Card 

Suicide Prevention Among LGBT Youth  

Suicide Prevention Resource Center 

Suicide Prevention Guide for Teachers 

Suicide Prevention Primer 

Suicide Shouldn't Be a Secret 

2013 State Suicide Stats 

Suicidal Warning Signs 

Talking About Suicide With LGBTQ Populations 

Teens Reaction to the Anniversary Date of a Peers Death 

Teen Suicide - Facts and Information for Canadian Educators 

My past blog posts regarding suicide awareness: