During a state-wide professional development day on Monday, January 24, 2022, staff at the Thompson Middle School and Rogers High School received initial training on student suicide awareness and prevention training.

The training was provided by Minding Your Mind’s Clinical Director Jon Mattleman and Young Adult Speaker Elizabeth to comply with the recently enacted Nathan Bruno and Jason Flatt Act which requires all public school districts in Rhode Island to provide this training annually for school personnel and students in grades 6-12, according to a press release received today on behalf of Newport Public Schools.

Newport Public Schools says that Pell Elementary School staff will be trained in February during one of their faculty meetings. This training will ensure each of Newport Public Schools’ over 400 faculty and staff across the district receive the same message about the importance of responding to any child who may be in need.

In addition to the newly enacted state legislation, Newport Public Schools says in the press release that it “believes it is critically important for all students to feel safe and welcomed at school each and every day, and that suicide prevention and awareness is a core component of ensuring each child’s social and emotional well-being”.

The Newport Public Schools Health and Wellness Subcommittee has this year formed a mental health working group. The group is identifying the greatest areas of student and staff mental health needs and is enhancing the wellness policy to guide the school district’s work on this critical topic.

Newport Public Schools says that it is also collaborating with Minding Your Mind to host grade-level student assemblies for grades 6-12 (approximately 1,200 students) in the spring of 2022 to communicate a more tailored message about suicide prevention and awareness. An additional training for health teachers will be provided in the spring prior to student trainings, which will be conducted through school wide assemblies at the middle and high school this spring.

The Kyle Johnson Foundation, an area nonprofit, has awarded Newport Public Schools a $3,000.00 KyleCares Grant to support this implementation of staff and student suicide awareness and prevention training. In addition, the organization promotes and facilitates long-term comprehensive strategies over short-term or one-off events; it also raises funds to help ensure that school programs are sustainable, with constant messaging.

KyleCares is a North Attleboro-based foundation run by the Johnson family to honor the memory of their son and brother Kyle Johnson, who died by suicide in 2018 as a teenager. He had struggled with anxiety and depression for years despite appearing to be a funny, happy person. He also cared deeply for others. His family created KyleCares with the goal of making it easy for young people to talk honestly about mental health, giving them and their friends and families the courage to seek help and services.

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