We’ve all seen the tragic headlines – most recently, a 12-year-old girl from New Jersey took her own life because of bullying. The suicide rate for all age groups has increased 24% over the last 14 years, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide rates have tripled for girls aged 10-14, the highest growth of any group. With National Suicide Prevention Week coming up (9/10-9/16), what is your school, district, or college doing to help train staff on the warning signs of suicide?
In California, the AB 2246 Suicide Prevention bill requires LEAs that serve pupils in grades 7-12 to adopt a suicide prevention policy. The policy should address any training to be provided to teachers on suicide awareness and prevention. Keenan SafeSchools/SafeColleges has a Youth Suicide: Awareness and Prevention course (39 minutes) to provide school professionals with information that can help them reduce the likelihood of suicide among students in their school. This course covers the scope of the problem of youth suicide, common risk factors related to youth suicide, successful strategies for youth suicide prevention, the immediate steps a staff member should take if they encounter a student who is threatening suicide, and best practices for intervention after a suicide (“postvention”).
As an educator, you interact with students everyday 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. 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 on social media, in a diary or journal, or class work.
- Giving away prized possessions and/or making a will.
- Preoccupation with death and suicide themes.
Schools and school staff members can also create a positive, supportive environment – and teach life skills which allow young people to cope effectively with personal difficulties.
Keenan SafeSchools/SafeColleges offers courses to help train your staff on topics related to youth suicide, including:
- Bullying: Recognition & Response (California-specific) (KSS only)
- Making Schools Safe for LGBT Students (KSS only)
- Online Safety: Cyberbullying (KSS only)
- Student Mental Health
- Youth Suicide: Awareness & Prevention