(Salem, Ore.) - The Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Oregon Department of Education (ODE), Lines for Life, and local suicide prevention champions are collaborating to launch the Suicide Prevention and Wellness Program for school districts.
This program, part of the new statewide School Safety and Prevention System, is designed to support school districts in implementing and sustaining solid, evidence based and racial equity centered suicide prevention policies and plans.
In 2019 the Oregon Legislature passed Adi’s Act (Senate Bill 52) and the Student Success Act (Section 36). They required each school district in Oregon to have a suicide prevention, intervention and postvention response policy and plan, and established a statewide School Safety and Prevention System.
Adi’s Act was named after Adi Staub, a young transgender woman in Oregon who died by suicide in 2017. Basic Rights Oregon, the statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, worked with Adi’s family to develop and introduce Adi’s Act in the Legislature, and, after it passed, were also engaged in planning.
"This program is being designed and implemented by a very special group of leaders, staff, and volunteers across many organizations," said Lon Staub, Adi’s father. "Their collective passion, commitment and expertise gives me confidence that we can provide hope, health and healing to at-risk youth and their families."
"It’s so powerful to see this legislation become a reality for kids throughout the state," said Nancy Haque, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon.
"The purpose of Adi’s Act is to ensure that, no matter who students love or how they identify, they are protected, supported, and see a future for themselves in Oregon."
Oregon Department of Education is responsible for coordinating implementation of the legislation, and OHA and Lines for Life work to support this critical piece of the statewide School Safety and Prevention System.
The Suicide Prevention and Wellness Program for school districts established by Adi’s Act includes the following projects:
"All of our students deserve to feel safe, welcome and secure," said ODE Director Colt Gill. "Through the Suicide Prevention and Wellness Program, we’re one step closer to making schools the welcoming safe haven our students need and deserve."
"While we know that suicide is a preventable cause of death, we also know that we must continue to do as much as we can to create and maintain safety nets for all of our students, not just some," said OHA Director Pat Allen.
As part of the Adi’s Act implementation, Lines for Life will hire four regional school suicide prevention and wellness coordinators across the state who will be supported by the School Suicide Prevention and Wellness Program manager at Lines for Life.
In spring 2020, prior to the creation of the School Suicide Prevention and Wellness Program, OHA began funding one position at Lines for Life dedicated to supporting school districts with Adi’s Act implementation and some mini-grant funding for school districts.
The four new positions will collaborate with local suicide prevention coordinators, school districts, educational service districts (ESDs) and other local organizations to help connect the dots in suicide prevention policy to best serve students and their families. Each coordinator will be cross-trained in behavioral safety assessments, suicide prevention, equity and racial diversity, and social emotional learning. Each coordinator will be assigned to and located in one region: the Willamette Valley, Central Oregon, Southwest Oregon and Eastern Oregon.
"This is going to save lives," said Dwight Holton, executive director of Lines for Life.
"It’s bringing together schools, public health, and, most importantly, community to do the work Adi’s Act envisioned – connecting young people to help, equipping folks to respond to crisis, empowering young people to help each other. This work is going to build hope every day."
These positions are currently posted and will begin work in the 2020-2021 school year. To apply, see the position descriptions here.
In partnership with OHA, Lines for Life is offering district-level grants of up to $1,500. Approved grants can be applied to costs of staff and student training and curriculum, as well as other costs associated with implementation of school suicide prevention plans. School districts can apply here.
In addition, funding from OHA is available for school districts or local suicide prevention leaders to offer various trainings to students, staff, school counselors, parents and other adults. The Big Six suicide prevention training initiative includes Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), safeTALK, Question Persuade Refer (QPR), Sources of Strength, and Connect: Postvention. These trainings are offered at low to no cost. For more information, click here.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please know that help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline run by Lines For Life at 800-273-8255 or text '273TALK' to 839863. En español: 888-628-9454. TTY: 800-799-4TTY (4889).
Youthline is a teen-to-teen crisis and helpline. Teens are available to help daily, 4 to 10 p.m. Pacific Time (off-hour calls answered by Lines for Life). Call 877-968-8491 or text teen2teen to 839863 or chat at www.oregonyouthline.org.
See Crisis Services by Oregon County and a list of crisis lines on OHA’s website.