To the editor,
It is public safety week and few issues in schools are more pressing than suicide prevention. In 2008, the B.C. Coroners Service outlined recommendations in "A Five Year Retrospective Review of Child and Youth Suicide in B. C." to establish a coordinated effort for suicide prevention. These have not been adopted by trustees despite efforts from professionals in mental health and stakeholders.
On Oct. 15, 2012 I, along with Trustee Ken Denike, moved a Notice of Motion to be debated at the Nov. 5 Vancouver Board of Education meeting:
That VBE request Ministry of Education, Ministry of Children and Family Development and Ministry of Health to work with trustees to:
1) Standardize best practice approach in schools to suicide risk management;
2) Adopt curriculum to build resiliency in students, social connectedness and recognition by students of potential risk for self-harm;
3) Increase teacher's knowledge/skills so they have confidence in identifying suicide risk.
The notice of motion covers the essential elements of the B.C. Coroners Service recommendations for school boards. It also coordinates with Bill 300, a private members bill for national strategy to reduce suicide which passed third reading June 18 and is now at Senate. Why not wait? It could take a decade for the national strategy to be further reviewed and studied and eventually filter down to local school boards. Our vulnerable youth can't wait a decade.
Sophia Woo, Trustee Vancouver Board of Education