This report provides a summary of how the Palo Alto community has come together in response to the tragedy of teen suicide. The report describes an effective, comprehensive, community-based mental health plan for overall youth well-being in Palo Alto. The plan, described in this report, draws on our nation’s best known practices for community-based mental health and suicide prevention. The report provides a detailed description of 22 strategies that fall into three broad categories: Education, Prevention and Intervention. Each of the 22 strategies is described in the following manner:
- Strategy Defined
- Actions Taken
- Next Steps Recommended
The Palo Alto community has a long history of community collaboration in support of youth and teens. The recommendations in this report should be viewed as building on the strengths of existing community collaborations and efforts in support of youth and teens. Moreover, this report should be viewed as a work in progress; a beginning rather than an end toward greater suicide prevention and social / emotional health for youth and teens in Palo Alto.
This report represents the best collective thinking of local and national experts, Palo Alto’s community leaders, parents and students on how we as a community should proceed, as we strive to realize the Project Safety Net (PSN) mission, to develop and implement an effective, comprehensive, community-based mental health plan for overall youth well-being in Palo Alto. The education, prevention and intervention strategies together provide a Safety Net for youth and teens in Palo Alto.
Among the priority next steps defined in this report are the following:
- Create an effective and sustainable structure for PSN to maximize and coordinate the tremendous resources in the Palo Alto community for the planning and implementation of effective strategies for “Youth Well-Being”.
- Implement the 41 developmental assets and philosophy in the School District, City, and community agencies for a common vision and language for youth and teen well-being.
- Train all School District staff and youth-serving agencies to be Gatekeepers using Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) or related program.
- Adopt a comprehensive K-12 health education curriculum that includes a strong social-emotional, mental health component as described in the “Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools” of the California Department of Education.
It is the collective recommendation and hope of the PSN Community Task Force that the recommendations in this report be used as a foundation for a sustainable Community Task Force; and that policy makers, administrators and the community use this report as a supportive document to help inform community decision making in the interest of youth and teen well-being.