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University of Missouri program helps teachers prevent teen suicides
Date:10/25/2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Parkway School District in Chesterfield, Mo., was once like many other school districts when it came to suicide prevention. With a minimal amount of guidance, educators within each building would decide what the next steps should be after a tragic incident had occurred. Now, thanks to the training efforts of the MU College of Education's Missouri Partnership for Educational Renewal (MPER), Parkway is one of many Missouri schools that have a standardized response to address suicidal students before a tragedy occurs a paradigm shift for education leaders and organizations throughout the country.

"Teenage suicide and other mental health issues are still the 'elephant in the room' for many school districts," said Julie Harrison, the coordinator of guidance and counseling for the Parkway School District. "MPER encouraged us to examine mental health issues in every school. As a result of the training MPER provided, we developed a systemized suicide prevention program and plans following a tragedy as well as policies and support for 3,000 employees and 17,000 students. Our comprehensive approach now includes more emphasis on awareness, education and support."

Administered by MU education experts and located at MU, MPER is a unique collaboration of 22 school districts representing 178,000 students. The organization is charged with improving education throughout the state. After recognizing a growing need for student mental health training, MPER administrators developed "The Mental Health Leadership Academy" as a low-cost method to educate and train educators. James Koller, professor emeritus in the College of Education, worked with the Missouri Department of Mental Health on suicide prevention.

Parkway teachers now have specialized training to differentiate between normal adolescent behavior and potential suicidal actions. Teachers learn how to approach students, parents, school administrators and other teachers regarding
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Contact: Steven Adams
AdamsST@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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University of Missouri program helps teachers prevent teen suicides
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