September 9, 2015
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 150,000 young people are treated for self-inflicted injuries and nearly 5,000 lives are lost each year. On the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, we're reminded that teachers can play an especially important role in youth suicide prevention as adult allies and frontline observers to sudden changes in their students’ behavior. Educators can also have an impact by encouraging the development of support programs for students who may be at risk.
“From cyberbullying and relational or physical violence, to extreme poverty or lack of resources in the home,” writes TeacherPop’s Janna Miller, “your students likely face various challenges that could potentially tax their resilience and ability to function well in school.” Miller discusses the five signs of suffering that indicate a student might be in emotional pain. From the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, warning signs of suicide include:
- Dramatic mood changes
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- No sense of purpose
- Rage and uncontrolled anger
- Feeling trapped
Students at immediate risk for suicide include those who 1) talk about wanting to die; 2) have researched suicide methods, say, online; or 3) mention feeling hopeless with no reason to live. If you witness any of these signs in your students, please seek help with a mental health professional immediately. We’ve compiled eight resources below to help educators learn more about youth suicide prevention and how they can continue to discuss mental health in schools.
- Educator Labs: Suicide Prevention/Awareness Lesson Plans
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center: The Role of High School Teachers in Preventing Suicide
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: More Than Sad—Suicide Prevention Education for Teachers
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
- Teacher Vision: Thirteen Reasons Why Educator’s Guide
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Youth Suicide Resources
- Florida Mental Health Institute: Youth Suicide Prevention Guide
- LEADS for Youth: A Suicide Prevention Education Program
To join the conversation and spread the word about suicide prevention and awareness, follow #WSPD15 and #take5, the National Council for Suicide Prevention’s Take 5 to Save Lives campaign, on Twitter.