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Student suicides: School to step up counselling

Reeling from the trauma caused by two student suicides last week, a Dubai private school has adopted a 10-point intervention programme focussed on counselling and guidance.
In a circular sent to parents and students on Monday, the United International Private School highlighted concrete steps to address issues that could cause students to harm themselves.

The circular, a copy of which was obtained by Gulf News, reads: “Last week, the entire community was saddened by the passing of two greatly treasured Grade 10 students. We are optimistic that their stories will serve as an eye opener for everyone and a source of much lesson on the value of life.”
Two Filipino grade 10 students of the school ended their lives in their residences just a day apart. Dubai Police said the first student, aged 16, was battling depression. The second case is being investigated.
A school official refused to comment on the issue till police complete their investigation.

However, the circular said the school immediately conducted debriefing and counselling of the victims’ closest friends last week. The school’s Guidance Department also held core group counselling sessions with Dr Rommel Sergio, the school’s consultant psychologist.
Students from different grades were also checked for signs of self-harm. The guidance counsellor informally talked to students who had marks, bruises and scratches.
As part of the intervention programme, the school on Sunday invited 17 counsellors to conduct individual sessions with students. The parents of the students will also be invited for debriefing sessions.
It will also organise a seminar on ‘family and value of life’ by a representative of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Dubai. Another seminar on parenting will be conducted by Dr Sergio on Saturday.
Teachers will also be re-oriented and retrained to identify early signs of depression. The second part of the Anti-Bullying and Child Protection policy discussion will be continued, aside from holding a sports day and a talent day for the students to encourage them to engage with the community.
The circular also said all devices will be checked by an IT expert from the school with the consent of parents.
The school reiterated through the circular that it conducted various programmes focusing on student wellness last year. A mental health awareness seminar was held in the school among Grade 10 and 11 students in November to teach students ways to cope with anxiety and stress and to seek professional help should they need it.

Source: Gulf News

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