Suicide is NEVER the answer, getting help is the answer. Prevention, Awareness, and support is available at Suicide.org
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8225
- Crisis Text Line- 741 741
- Tell someone!
- What can you do if you are concerned about a student?
- Keeping Students Safe
- Warning Signs
- Common Suicide Myths & Realities
- Teachers and other school staff are well-positioned to observe student behavior and to ACT if there is a suspicion that a student may consider self-harm. Young people lack the perspective of time. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but for kids, their problems can seem endless at this stage. If we get them through the crisis, they are very unlikely to attempt suicide. ACT stands forAcknowledge, Care, and Tell.
Acknowledge the feelings.
- “I’m sorry to hear about this. It sounds really hard.”
- “You have some major challenges in your life right now.”
“You’ll get over this.” “Time heals all wounds.” “Stop worrying so much—it’s no biggie.”
Show Care and Concern for the student by taking the next step.
- “I’m worried about you. I don’t want anything bad to happen or for you to be hurt.”
- “I don’t want this to get any worse.”
- “I really want to be sure you get some help.”
- “You’re important to me and so many others and I want to be sure you stay safe.”
- “Let’s go talk with someone in the counseling office. They know how to work with students who have concerns like these.”
- “I know the people in Student Services, and they work with a lot of students who face challenges like this. Let’s go together, right now.” (Walk with them to the counseling center or to a teacher that they know. Don't take their "word" for it that they'll seek out help on their own)
These steps (Acknowledge-Care-Tell) are the central components of the “Signs of Suicide” program (SOS), an evidence-based school-wide intervention program.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in the state of Kansas. If you or someone you know is dealing with issues related to suicide please contact a responsible adult immediately.
- Police Officer, Teacher, Nurse, Counselor, Administrator, Parent or anyone else you can find who might be able to help.
Why should we worry about youth suicide? Are many kids really depressed or suicidal?
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in Kansas.
- We have the 19th highest rate in the US, 29% higher than the U.S. average.
- We lose one young person to suicide about every other week.
- More than one in five Kansas high school students report symptoms of depression.
Early warning signs include:
- Declining quality of school work.
- In girls, watch for social isolation. In boys, anger problems.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Change in eating habits, eating a lot or very little.
Late warning signs include:
- Talking about suicide
- Change in sleeping habits—a major sleep disturbance is an important sign
- Impulsive violent or rebellious actions
- Sudden cheerfulness after a period of depression
- Giving away possessions
- Making a last will/testament
Also understand that:
- Mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety, usually contribute to attempted and completed suicides. These concerns are treatable, but they must be recognized.
- A prior suicide attempt is the best predictor of a future suicide attempt.
- Everyone in a school community can identify and help students at risk for suicide.
Myth: Asking a student how they are doing or if they have had thoughts about harming themselves will bring on thoughts of suicide.
Reality: Students are already thinking about and completing suicide. Carefully talking about the topic and getting students to help are keys to preventing suicide.
Myth: Students won’t be honest when asked if they need help.
Reality: Students who are having thoughts about suicide are usually scared and want help. No one truly wants to die.
Myth: Only pupil service professionals can/should help a suicidal student.
Reality: Everyone in school can help prevent youth suicide by connecting students to appropriate helping professionals.
Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Reality: Many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts and not all people who attempt or die by suicide have mental illness. Relationship problems and other life stressors such as criminal/legal matters, persecution, eviction/loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Myth: Once an individual is suicidal, he or she will always remain suicidal.
Reality: Active suicidal ideation is often short-term and situation-specific. Studies have shown that approximately 54% of individuals who have died by suicide did not have a diagnosable mental health disorder. And for those with mental illness, the proper treatment can help to reduce symptoms.
The act of suicide is often an attempt to control deep, painful emotions and thoughts an individual is experiencing. Once these thoughts dissipate, so will the suicidal ideation. While suicidal thoughts can return, they are not permanent. An individual with suicidal thoughts and attempts can live a long, successful life.
Myth: Most suicides happen suddenly without warning.
Reality: Warning signs—verbally or behaviorally—precede most suicides. Therefore, it’s important to learn and understand the warnings signs associated with suicide. Many individuals who are suicidal may only show warning signs to those closest to them. These loved ones may not recognize what’s going on, which is how it may seem like the suicide was sudden or without warning.
Myth: People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out.
Reality: Typically, people do not die by suicide because they do not want to live—people die by suicide because they want to end their suffering. These individuals are suffering so deeply that they feel helpless and hopeless. Individuals who experience suicidal ideations do not do so by choice. They are not simply, “thinking of themselves,” but rather they are going through a very serious mental health symptom due to either mental illness or a difficult life situation.
Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
Reality: There is a widespread stigma associated with suicide and as a result, many people are afraid to speak about it. Talking about suicide not only reduces the stigma, but also allows individuals to seek help, rethink their opinions and share their story with others. We all need to talk more about suicide.
Debunking these common myths about suicide can hopefully allow individuals to look at suicide from a different angle—one of understanding and compassion for an individual who is internally struggling. Maybe they are struggling with a mental illness or maybe they are under extreme pressure and do not have healthy coping skills or a strong support system.
As a society, we should not be afraid to speak up about suicide, to speak up about mental illness or to seek out treatment for an individual who is in need. Eliminating the stigma starts by understanding why suicide occurs and advocating for mental health awareness within our communities. There are suicide hotlines, mental health support groups, online community resources and many mental health professionals who can help any individual who is struggling with unhealthy thoughts and emotions.