Section VIII. DEFINITIONS
1. At risk: A student who is defined as high risk for suicide is one who has made a suicide attempt, has the intent to die by suicide, or has displayed a significant change in behavior suggesting the onset or deterioration of a mental health condition. The student may have thought about suicide including potential means of death, and may have a plan. In addition, the student may exhibit feelings of isolation, hopelessness, helplessness, and the inability to tolerate any more pain. This situation would necessitate a referral, as documented in the Self-Injury and Suicidal Ideation Response Protocols.
2. Crisis team: A multidisciplinary team of primarily administrative, mental health, and safety professionals, whose primary focus is to address crisis preparedness, intervention/response, and recovery. These professionals have been specifically trained in crisis preparedness through recovery, and take the leadership role in developing crisis plans, ensuring school staff can effectively execute various crisis protocols, and may provide mental health services for effective crisis interventions and recovery supports.
3. Mental health: A state of mental and emotional being that can impact choices and actions that affect wellness. Mental health problems include mental and substance use disorders.
4. Postvention: Suicide postvention is a crisis intervention strategy designed to disseminate factual information after a suicide, reduce the risk of suicide and suicide contagion, provide support needed to help survivors cope with a suicide, and address the social stigma associated with suicide.
5. Assessment: This is completed by appropriate school staff (e.g. counselor or social worker) and is designed to elicit information regarding the student’s intent to die by suicide, previous history of any suicide attempts, presence of a suicide plan and its level of lethality and availability, presence of support systems, and other relevant risk factors. This assessment is not a mental health assessment to assess whether or not the student is considered to be “suicidal.”
6. Risk factors for suicide: Characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to end his/her life by suicide. Suicide risk tends to be highest when someone has several risk factors at the same time. Risk factors may encompass biological, psychological, and or social factors in the individual, family, and environment.
7. Self-harm: Behavior that is self-directed and deliberately results in injury or the potential for injury to oneself can be categorized as either nonsuicidal or suicidal. Although self-harm often lacks suicidal intent, youth who engage in self-harm are more likely to attempt suicide.
8. Suicide: Death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior.
9. Suicide attempt: A self-injurious behavior for which there is evidence that the person had at least some intent to kill himself or herself. A suicide attempt may result in death, injuries, or no injuries.
10. Suicidal behavior: Suicide attempts, intentional injury to self associated with at least some level of intent, developing a plan or strategy for suicide, gathering the means for a suicide plan, or any other overt action or thought indicating intent to end one’s life.
11. Suicide contagion: The process by which suicidal behavior or suicide influences an increase in the suicidal behaviors of others.
12. Suicidal ideation: Thinking about, considering, or planning for self-injurious behavior, which may result in death. A desire to be dead without a plan or intent to end one’s life is still considered suicidal ideation and should be taken seriously.
* The Lexington Public Schools' Self-Injury and Suicidal Ideation Response Protocols were developed during 2014-2015 by a multidisciplinary committee comprised of members from the Counseling, Special Education, Nursing and METCO departments in coordination with our district consulting psychiatrist and school attorney.
* This Policy was amended from The Model School Policy. The Model School Policy was developed in partnership by The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, The Trevor Project, American School Counselor Association, and National Association for School Psychologists. The Model School Policy is research-based and outlines comprehensive model policies and best practices resulting in a national framework for school districts to follow to protect the health and safety of all students.