By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent
Hundreds of teachers are to be trained in programmes aimed at preventing suicide and helping teenagers cope with traumatic incidents.
The plans being announced by Education Minister Richard Bruton today will see the expansion of training in a programme stressing safety and challenging taboos about talking about suicide.
Over the next two years, his department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) will also provide training for up to two teachers at all 730 second-level schools on how to respond to critical incidents.
Each year, NEPS psychologists are dispatched to schools to help staff lead the response to events involving students or staff, such as suicide, violent death, serious illness, or deaths in tragedies such as car crashes or drowning.
The training being rolled out from September will be based on NEPS guidelines on how schools respond, covering everything from planning and management of responses to tragedies during State exams or dealing with the media after an incident.
Schools are advised to focus in the aftermath of a tragedy not just on supporting students who may be vulnerable or at risk, but also on enabling a return to normal learning routines and promoting resilience and positive mental health.
“Coping with the aftermath of critical incidents has become a challenging but necessary task for a number of schools in recent years,” said Mr Bruton.