Suicide Awareness and Prevention
The news has unfortunately been flooded with reports of kids tragically taking their own lives. Some people may think that talking about bullying, suicide, and mental health may increase the frequency among students however, the reverse is actually true. Opening up the discussion and providing training can help spread awareness on these topics. Think about a problem you may have had recently. Did it help to talk about it with someone else? Did it relieve some anxiety or stress about the issue? Sometimes being a good listener and creating a positive, supporting environment can make all the difference in a student’s life.
As an educator, you interact with children every day so you might be the first to notice a change in a student’s behavior or overall demeanor. Most youth suicides can be prevented. School staff members who are trained and aware can often make the difference between life and death.
Suicide by the Numbers
- Each year approximately one million people die from suicide. That equals out to one death every 40 seconds. By 2020, it is predicted that this rate will increase to one death every 20 seconds.*
- Worldwide, suicide rates have increased by 60% over the last 45 years.*
- Mental health disorders (depression and substance abuse in particular) are associated with more than 90% of all cases of suicide.*
- Globally, 55% of all suicides are people aged 15-44 years.*
- Youth suicide is increasing at the greatest rate.*
- In 2017, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of over 47,000 people.**
- In 2017, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34.**
- In 2017, there were over twice as many suicides (47,173) in the U.S. as there were homicides (19,510).**
* World Health Organization (WHO)
**Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Suicide Awareness Tips
Here are some warning signs you should pay close attention for:
- Symptoms of depression.
- Sudden changes in behavior, friends, or personality.
- Changes in physical habits or personality.
- Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities.
- Increased use and abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Suicide threats or confiding thoughts of suicide to a friend or trusted adult.
- Writing suicidal thoughts in a Social Networking Web page, diary, journal, or class work.
- Giving away prized possessions and/or making a will.
- Preoccupation with death and suicide themes.
If a school staff member encounters a situation in which a student is threatening suicide, the staff member should immediately take the following actions:
- Assess the severity of the situation. Always err on the side of caution. Support personnel, such as counselors, need special training in this area.
- Remove access to methods a student may have to harm themselves.
- Notify school administration and counseling. Follow your school and school district’s policies carefully.
- Notify parents/caregivers.
- Supervise the student at all times. Do not leave the student alone!
- Document all actions. Legal documentation may be needed at a further date.
Dr. Scott Poland, a nationally recognized school safety expert and SafeSchools Training author, shares more tips that schools can implement to improve their suicide prevention efforts. Click here to read the tips.
How SafeSchools Can Help
The SafeSchools Online Training System includes a variety of expert-authored courses dedicated to helping your staff and students prevent incidents of suicide, including:
- Student Mental Health
- Youth Suicide Awareness (Student Course)
- Youth Suicide: Awareness, Prevention & Postvention
We also offer our SafeSchools Alert Tip Reporting System that allows students, staff, and parents to confidentially report safety concerns to your administration 24/7/365 via mobile app, text, phone, email, and website.
With preventative education, training, and preparedness, we hope that we can all work together to make this school year the safest on record.