Supporting Indigenous child suicide prevention within classrooms in Canada: Implications for school psychologists and educators
McVittie, J. & Ansloos, J.
Indigenous young people in Canada are disproportionately overrepresented in suicide rates and alarmingly, young children are accounted for in these disparities. Since children spend much of their day at school, schools are a vital context for suicide prevention, identification, and intervention. However, research indicates that educators often report that they feel unprepared to address mental health challenges within the classroom. Indigenous communities are developing community driven responses to suicide that are culturally relevant and strengths based. It is critical that these models are considered when developing such suicide prevention within schools as they diverge from medicalized focused approaches and attend to broader social dimensions. It is imperative that educators and the education system are properly equipped with the training and resources to provide suicide prevention within schools and communities servicing Indigenous children. School psychologists can play an important role in providing this prevention leadership. Through interviews with educators, we learned about the types of supports that are needed within schools to address Indigenous child suicide, and in what ways school psychologists could enhance prevention efforts. Using a reflexive approach to thematic analysis, we identified four main themes related to support needed. Findings are discussed in conversation with the current state of child specific suicide and suicide prevention literature. Applied implications for suicide prevention within schools for Indigenous children, as well as future research and community-based recommendations are considered.