MISD takes Summer Months to Tackle Teenage Suicide 7/9/12
CBS 7 Reporter
July 9, 2012
Midland, TX - Instead of taking the summer to relax, this year Midland school officials are using time out of the classroom to tackle a serious problem: teenage suicide. And putting a solution in place is on the top of their list for the next school year.
After a rash of teenage suicides in Midland, Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren asked the Student Health Advisory Committee to come up with a program that could be implemented in the schools immediately.
What they've come up with is 2 fold: training for staff and prevention for students.
SHAC Member Nancy Surber came back from the State Health Summit with a list of fresh ideas, but this year her focus was on something much more serious.
"In the past I've said the sex curriculum and this year I was really stepping out there with suicide prevention," she explains.
It’s something many other Texas districts were shocked to hear.
"People were just dumbfounded when we started talking about it,” Surber says. “People from El Paso or Houston, they've never heard of that many, especially not with a community the size of Midland. It's such a new phenomenon. Lots of people are just now starting to put it [a program] in."
After 4 teenage suicides in Midland rattled the community, MISD didn't waste any time finding a solution.
"With us, we had to jump on it and get quick on the suicide prevention, with most people it takes you 3 or 4 years."
The solution they came up with includes a teacher-training tool called QPR, or question, persuade and refer.
"Every teacher will have the language and the verbiage to recognize what kids are saying to recognize maybe some kind of outcry from a child," Surber claims.
The second part is an in class curriculum for students called Signs of Suicide. The lessons include discussion on dating violence, bullying and the role of social media.
"Kids have a tendency to say more, they're more bold, and they’re braver in a text message than they would be in front of a kid,” she says. “You really can't control that, you just have to do the best u can do to show kids how powerful that is and how careful they need to be with that."
Local groups are also chipping in to help; MISD has just received $37,000 from the Davidson Foundation for the S.O.S. Program.