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School operations

Suicide Prevention and Response

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to reinforce the importance of whole school approaches to suicide prevention and to provide guidance to schools on responding to a student’s attempted suicide or suicide.

Summary

It is critical that suicide prevention in schools takes a whole school approach.

Schools must:

  • promote student resilience, coping strategies and help-seeking behaviours
  • ensure that, where appropriate, students are aware of and encouraged to access mental health support services within the school
  • approach suicide or attempted suicide in a non-stigmatising way

School staff have a responsibility to:

Details

Effective suicide prevention results from a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing and social and emotional learning.

Schools must promote positive mental health and ensure that students are aware of and encouraged to access mental health support services within the school if required.

Mental health training and support

Schools must ensure that staff are trained to:

  • treat all disclosures of intent to self-harm or suicidal thoughts seriously
  • follow procedures to respond to disclosures of self-harm or suicidal thoughts as per the school’s Emergency Management Plan and the Department’s Reporting and Managing Schools Incidents (Including Emergencies) Policy
  • follow procedures to respond to the suicide or attempted suicide of a student as per the school’s Emergency Management Plan and the Department’s Reporting and Managing Schools Incidents (Including Emergencies) Policy

For further information, including how to access training, see the Department’s Mental Health Toolkit (also available under the Resources tab). 

Responding to attempted suicide or suicide of a student

Schools must follow the Department’s Reporting and Managing School Incidents (including emergencies) Policy, when responding to the attempted suicide or suicide of a student

Schools must ensure that their Emergency Management Plan considers incidents related to the physical and psychological safety of students and has procedures in place for managing these.

Guidelines to assist in responding to attempted suicide or suicide

Guidelines to assist in responding to attempted suicide or suicide (the Guidelines) have been designed to assist school staff in responding to attempted suicide or suicide by a student. They provide a checklist of the immediate and longer-term steps that should be taken by schools. See:

The Guidelines complement school efforts to promote positive mental health and supports and reflect critical incident management processes.

School leaders and emergency response teams should re-familiarise themselves with the information in the Guidelines as soon as they are aware of a suicide or attempted suicide.

Privacy and duty of care

Teachers have a duty of care to pass on information to the principal, or other appropriate leadership staff, if they have knowledge of student self-harm or suicide risk, so that appropriate steps can be taken to ensure the safety of students.

Personal and health information must be collected and managed appropriately in accordance with relevant laws and Departmental policy. For example, use and/or disclosure of health information should be limited to:

  • where needed to carry out school functions
  • where needed to lessen or prevent a serious threat to a person or the public’s health, safety or welfare
  • where a parent/carer or mature minor consents to the disclosure, or
  • when sharing information outside the Department is required, or authorised by law, such as to:
    • meet duty of care, anti-discrimination, occupational health and safety obligations and/or 
    • promote the wellbeing or safety of children, or to assess or manage family violence risk (for more information, refer to the Child and Family Violence Information Sharing Schemes).
  • when required by law enforcement

Relevant legislation

Department policy on whole-school approaches to suicide prevention and how to respond to a student's attempted suicide or suicide

Reviewed 12 May 2021

Policy last updated

19 April 2021

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

Mental Health Reform Unit

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