September is designated as Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death and is often the result of poorly managed mental health (NAMI, 2016). Below are some facts provided by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
1. Youth suicide is serious problem. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among school age youth.
2. Suicide is preventable. Youth who are contemplating suicide typically give warning signs of their distress. Most important is to never take these warning signs lightly or promise to keep them secret.
3. Suicide Risk Factors. Certain characteristics are associated with increased suicide risk include:
4. Suicide Warning Signs. Most suicidal youth demonstrate observable behaviors signalling suicidal thinking:
5. There are protective factors that can lessen the effects of risk factors. These can include family and peer support, school and community connectedness, healthy problem-solving skills, and easy access to effective medical and mental health services.
6. Schools have an important role in preventing youth suicide. Children and youth spend the majority of their day in school where caring and trained adults are available to help them. Schools need trained mental health staff and clear procedures for identifying and intervening with students at risk for suicidal behavior.
7. The entire school staff should work to create an environment where students feel safe. School mental health and crisis team members are responsible for conducting suicide risk assessment, warn/inform parents, provide recommendations and referrals to community services, and often provide follow up counseling and support at school.
8. Collaboration between schools and community providers is critical. Establishing partnerships with local community mental health agencies helps connect students to needed services in a timely manner and helps smooth re-entry to school.
9. Never ignore or keep information a secret. Peers should not agree to keep the suicidal thoughts of a friend a secret and instead should tell an adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school psychologist. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to the designated school mental health professional or administrator.
10. Get immediate help if a suicide threat seems serious. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Originally written by NASP https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide
Follow Dr. Turner on twitter @DrEarlTurner
Dr. Turner is a licensed psychologist with expertise in behavioral pediatrics, child mental health, disruptive behavior disorders, and minority mental health. He is also certified as a National Register Health Service Psychologist.