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The Social & Emotional Learning and School Climate Collaborative has been formed in Connecticut.  The group recently held their inaugural meeting. 

One of the members is Suicide Prevention Advocate Debbie Berman.  The Brookfield resident lost her daughter to suicide 11 years ago at age 14.  Berman started a website called She Mattered, and gives presentations in churches, libraries and schools about recognizing bullying and speaking up.

State Representative Liz Linehan started off the meeting, by saying why she felt it was important to have a group like this. An 11-year old died by suicide in Cheshire, the town she represents.  Her family believes bullying was a large part of that. 

Linehan says that's when lawmakers started to look at what was happening in schools.  She notes that one of the the charges of the Collaborative is to determine if there's an early assessment tool, for children as early as 3rd grade.  But Linehan says there was pushback because some people believe if suicide is discussed, somehow permission is being given for suicide.  She says that's not the case.

The collaborative was created to assist local and regional school boards in efforts to improve school climate.  The group will also study youth suicide and the state's response.  The  model positive school climate proposal is due to state officials by January 1st.  By July 1st, the Collaborative must submit a proposed assessment. 

Two subcommittees will be established in the coming weeks.  One will investigate deaths by despair while the other will come up with a model policy based on best practices from schools and communities in Connecticut.

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