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James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

September 18, 2019

OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH RECOGNIZES CAPITAL REGION SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR EXTRAORDINARY SUICIDE PREVENTION EFFORTS

East Greenbush Superintendent Honored for District’s Dedication to Creating Suicide Safer Schools

The East Greenbush School District, in Rensselaer County, has been awarded the New York State Office of Mental Health’s (OMH) “Excellence in Suicide Prevention: Creating and Strengthening Suicide Safer School and Youth Initiatives Award.”  

East Greenbush’s superintendent, Jeffrey P. Simons, accepted the award during OMH’s fourth annual New York State Suicide Prevention Conference, at which keynote speakers and 30 breakout sessions focused on strengthening suicide prevention through state and local partnerships, including those that target diverse, at-risk groups.

“The East Greenbush School District is a perfect example of how collaboration within an academic system can make a major impact on suicide prevention,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “These organizations have laid the foundation of a successful school and community partnership that meets the needs of children and families in the region. We thank everyone involved in this network for their hard work and commitment to suicide prevention.”

The East Greenbush Central School District (EGCSD) was nominated for the award by Tina Yun Lee, a New York mother who also won the 2019 Suicide Safer Community Award. In her nomination letter, Tina points to the district’s courage to talk about suicide while also promoting prevention, resilience, and a commitment to social change. 

To that end, EGCSD has included ongoing and extensive professional development for more than 500 teachers and staff. This includes emotional wellness and mindfulness training, addressing social determinants like sexual abuse and poverty, teaching best practices for establishing a trauma-informed classroom, and programs on self-care and stress management.

EGCSD also utilizes a Therapeutic Academic Excellence Program and provides gatekeeper training, like the Suicide Safety Training available through the Suicide Prevention Center of New York State. 

The district also acknowledges that suicide prevention must also include students and parents to create a culture of compassion, empathy, and connection to empower families and students.  In November 2018, NAMI-NYS presented Ending the Silence, a suicide prevention and mental health literacy program to over 1,500 Columbia High School students. 

“It’s important that we normalize mental health concerns within our schools among students and faculty,” said EGCSD Superintendent Jeff Simons. “Students need to know that they are not alone in their experiences and that they can find trust, support and help among our school staff.”

“EGCSD is setting the gold standard for other school districts by taking a pro-active, comprehensive approach and creating a suicide safer school by reducing factors that increase risk and increasing factors that promote resiliency and connection,” said nominator Tina Yun Lee.   “It takes a village to keep everyone safe from suicide and the district has created that village through collaboration with local and state organizations to prioritize mental wellness in their school community.”

To learn more about the East Greenbush Central School District, visit http://egcsd.org/

 

Suicide Prevention in NYS Schools

In August 2019, the Suicide Prevention Center of New York released the first ever Guide to Suicide Prevention Guide for NYS Schools. This guide was developed by the Schools and Youth Workgroup of the Suicide Prevention Council at New York State Office of Mental Health to provide best practice guidance and resources to schools toward the prevention of youth suicide. 

New York State Suicide Prevention Task Force Report

OMH is the lead agency for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Suicide Prevention Task Force, which includes leaders from state agencies, local governments, not-for-profit groups, and other recognized experts in suicide prevention. In May, the Task Force released its first report, which focuses on bridging gaps in current state suicide prevention efforts, and on building coalitions and supporting the efforts of local governments and advocates.

National Leader in Suicide Prevention

New York’s suicide prevention efforts have been recognized by the Federal Government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which recently awarded OMH with a grant to support our efforts.

Suicide Prevention Training Opportunities

Suicide Prevention trainings are available throughout New York State. Community groups can register for a suicide prevention training course through the Suicide Prevention Center of NY. Clinical trainings on best practices for suicide prevention can be accessed through the Center for Practice Innovation.

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