CPS looks at new suicide prevention policy

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools will take a step toward adding a suicide awareness and prevention policy.

Monday night the Columbia School Board will have its first reading of a new suicide policy. Public Relations Director Michelle Baumstark said even though CPS never had this specific policy in place, they have several resources available to students and staff when needed. 

"We have a wonderful partnership with the Boone County Mental Health Coalition. We've partnered with the Look Around Campaign which brings more attention to mental health awareness," Baumstark said. "We also have our guidance counselors and our outreach counselors in place in all of our school buildings. Having this policy just reemphasizes what we already do as a school community."

State law requires all elementary and secondary schools in Missouri to adopt a policy that outlines the way schools plan to identify and help students who are at risk of suicide.
The Missouri School Board Association's Executive Director of Board Services Kelli Hopkins said she sees the policy as reassurance for the community.
"This policy is the boards statement to the community and to the members of the school telling them the approach they are going to take on suicide prevention, identification and training," said Hopkins.
Hopkins said even though most Missouri schools already had policies in place that focus on suicide, the state required policy needs to cover the following points: 
1) Strategies that can help identify students who are at possible risk of suicide,
2) Strategies and protocols for helping students at possible risk of suicide, and
3) Protocols for responding to a suicide death
All schools are required to have a new suicide awareness and prevention policy in place by July 1.