What role do schools have in preventing suicide?

On average, approximately 1 out of 6 high school students engage in serious suicidal ideation (the formation of ideas or concepts), 1 in 8 make a suicide plan, and 1 in 14 make a suicide attempt.* The annual percentage of all hospital visits for suicidal ideation and attempts among children and adolescents almost doubled from 2008 to 2015, particularly among youth ages 12-17. As of 2017, the CDC found that more teenagers and young adults annually die from suicide than die from cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, chronic lung disease, and other medical conditions combined.

Research supports significant positive academic, social, emotional, and behavioral student outcomes when partnerships are established between families and schools.*** Youth development is influenced by the relationship between dynamic systems and settings, including home, school, community, and peers. Therefore, schools play an critical role in supporting the well-being of students and in fostering greater understanding between schools and families regarding both academics and social-emotional learning.

Students receiving mental health services, and prevention and interventions through school-based services are more likely to achieve in school, reduce special education referrals and improve school climate, decrease grade retention and reduce levels of emotional and behavioral difficulties.****

*(CDC, 2018), **(Plemmons et al., 2018), ***(Epstein & Sanders, 2006; Hill & Tyson, 2009; Jeynes, 2007), ****(Greenberg et al., 2003), (Bruns et al., 2004), (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, 2005), (Hussey & Guo, 2003)

What is BSD doing to support student well-being, specifically around suicide prevention and intervention?

Along with the Signs of Suicide (SOS) Curriculum, the Bellevue School District provides a social-emotional and behavioral screen to help identify students at risk of suicide and/or show mental health needs. The screen is called the Behavior Intervention Monitoring and Assessment System 2 (BIMAS2). The screen has three versions, a Teacher Report, a Parent Report, and a Self-Report. The BIMAS2 Self Report is provided to students in grades 7 through 11.

This screen consists of 34 questions and take about 2-3 minutes to complete. The rating scale ranges from 0 to 4, where a 0 is “Never” and a 4 is “Very Often.” The questions are grouped into 5 categories, or scales, consisting of 1) Conduct, 2) Negative Affect, 3) Cognitive Attention, 4) Social, and 5) Academic Functioning. The screen contains one question, question #24, within the Negative Affect scale that askes students if they have thought about harming themselves.

Does my student have to participate in the BIMAS2 Screen?

The Bellevue School District uses an opt-out process for consent to screen to maximize participation. Parents are notified prior to the screen and provided the opportunity to opt out of either or both the Signs of Suicide Lesson and the BIMS2 screen. The screen is also optional for students to take. In the instructions for the screen, students are notified that they can choose to not take the screen.

Who sees the results of my student’s BIMAS2 Screen?

The Mental Health Assistance Team Counselors (MHAT) interpret the results and primarily focus on the Conduct and Negative Affect scales, as well as question #24 about self-harm. Any student that reports a score of 1 or more to Question #24 about self-harm is evaluated using a secondary screen to determine the level of suicide risk. The MHAT Counselors follow the district guideline outlined in Policy 2145, Procedure 2145P, and Procedure 2145P Exhibit A.

Are parents notified of their student’s BIMAS2 Screen?

Parents are notified if an MHAT Counselor works with a student to conduct the secondary suicide screen. Based on past results, approximately 20% of students report a score of 1 or more on Question #24 about self-harm.

What happens if my student does not show significant or at-risk scores on the BIMAS2 Screen?

For students who show significant or at-risk scores on the Conduct and/or Negative Affect scales but did not report thoughts of self-harm, the MHAT Counselors will meet with each of those students to offer support services.

These services can include short-term counseling using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Plus (CBT+), Solution-Focused Counseling, Selected Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills (DBT), check-ins, or a supported referral to non-school services. These services are optional and require student and parent permission for start and continue.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.