How Promoting Social-Emotional Learning Can Help Support Suicide Prevention
There is an old parable about a fishing village, where each day, the fishermen had to rescue residents from nearly drowning in the river downstream. Knowing this was not sustainable, the fishermen decided that instead of rescuing victims, they would discover how villagers were falling into the river in the first place. They ventured upstream to discover a dangerous overlook on a cliff where people were losing their footing and falling into the river. After building a protective barrier and safeguarding the edge, the fishermen no longer had to rescue drowning victims.
For the past 27 years, I have worked as an educator and later as a Coordinator of Health Education Programs for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the nation. In that time, I’ve seen how educators and communities can form “protective barriers” to curb the devastating consequences of youth suicide. The idea of “upstreaming,” or identifying and mitigating the source of a crisis, has been the focus of my career as a teacher, advocate and school district administrator. All too often, after a crisis occurs, the common question arises: “Why didn’t someone do something?”