1.1 Work Group Formation


It is recommended that there is a formed work group that is charged with developing and/or improving suicide prevention efforts. This work group can be designated to complete the facilitated discussion through the 7 P’s of Suicide Prevention. While members of a school’s crisis team may be a part of the work group, it is not necessary to have all members of the crisis response team involved. However, all members of a district and/or school’s crisis team should be briefed and aware of newly developed and/or altered suicide prevention procedures, as it could affect duties, responses, and involvement of members.

Below are recommendations for different components of forming a work group:

Members of the work group could include an administrator, a school-based law enforcement officer, a mental health professional, an educator, and a community partner (i.e. first responder, local mental health authority member, medical professional, etc.). Each one of these members will add a different perspective into the suicide prevention planning efforts.

  • Administrator - This member will have knowledge on current district and school policies, and will know what processes will and won’t be feasible to implement in that district and/or school.
  • School-based law enforcement officer - This member will know what laws need to be followed, and will provide insight into the role that law enforcement have in preventing and intervening into suicidal crises.
  • Mental health professional - This member can be internal or external, depending on the current resources available. This person should be a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), or a licensed psychologist (PhD or PsyD). While school counselor and/or academic counselors may play a role on the crisis team, licensed counselor will have greater knowledge on mental health protocols, laws, and safety around suicide prevention.
  • Educator - Since educators tend to be the first staff member to hear of a crisis, this will give you the input of a person on the “frontlines”.
  • Community Partner - This member will give you perspectives and input from someone outside of the school community. Examples of a potential community partner to include in your work group are: first responder, person from your local mental health authority, medical professional, etc. (Note: Local mental health authorities provide mental health services to specific geographic regions within the state. Each LMHA has a suicide prevention coordinator.) The person chosen for this should be someone who has the time to contribute and who will make the most significant contribution in planning efforts.

At least 3, but no more than 7. You want enough members on this team to include different perspectives and divide duties (if necessary), but having too many members in a work group can cause planning to become too complicated and not as productive.

The leader should be the member that will be best at organizing meetings, directing meetings with an agenda, and maintaining communication between group members. This may be an administrator. Some groups may choose to include an administrative assistant or secretary to organize meetings, paperwork, and communication, while another person is designated to lead the meeting agenda and direction of planning processes.

Alloted Time
This will vary depending on the status of the district’s or school’s current suicide prevention plans. Are you developing a brand new suicide prevention plan? Or are you just making modifications to a stable plan that has already been implemented? Work group members should be informed that there will most likely be multiple meetings (time consuming) to work on multiple components (multi-faceted).

Meetings should happen in a quiet, excluded environment that will be free from distractions. The work group may choose to have the meeting in a conference room or classroom. Technology, such as a computer and/or projector should be available. Having the capability to easily access needed resources should be available.

Resources to Help with Creating Effective Work Groups

The Characteristics of Effective Groups Handout contains easy ground rules for groups to function efficiently.
Characteristics of Effective Groups

This article assists with identifying “norms” in the group so there is equal contribution between members.
Norms Put the ‘Golden Rule’ into Practice