Bangor School Officials Unveil New Suicide Prevention Plan After Parents Urge Changes

Feb 14, 2020

Parent Marcella Kenny speaks Wednesday night to members of the Bangor School Committee.
Credit Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

School officials in Bangor presented district leaders with a new draft policy on suicide prevention Wednesday night. The proposed policy comes after concern from several parents and community members over how the district communicated the news of a student's death late last year.

The draft document outlines resources and procedures, including how the district would identify at-risk students and intervene.

Superintendent Betsy Webb said the policy is intended as a companion to more substantial protocols that the district has already adopted as part of its emergency management plan.

"This is a first step of saying, no matter where you go you know we're going to take this seriously," Webb said. "And that we are committed - ethically committed, morally committed, professionally committed - to making sure youth know they matter, that people are trained to identify, listen and support. And that we have partners in this."

A number of parents at the meeting before the Bangor School Committee thanked the district for its efforts, but urged officials to do more, including potentially forming a district-wide task force around the issue.

 

And parent Marcella Kenny said she hopes to see the document include details on how schools should respond and communicate with students after an incident. "Post-vention really needs to be a piece of this policy," she said, "and unfortunately, there's no indication that it's in there at this time.

Committee members said that the draft policy was still a work in progress, and they planned to collect more information before taking further action.

Originally published Feb. 13, 2020, at 8:03 a.m. ET.