WHAT IS IT?
Suicide is a complicated matter that doesn’t have one main cause. Certain factors such as substance abuse, depression or anxiety may prevent a person from thinking clearly about the situation. Sometimes these conditions are not identified or noticed; other times, someone will show obvious symptoms or signs.
Suicide Warning Signs
Most suicidal youth demonstrate observable behaviors that signal their suicidal thinking. These include:
- Suicidal threats in the form of direct ("I am going to kill myself") and indirect ("I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up again") statements.
- Suicide notes and plans (including online postings).
- Making final arrangements (e.g., making funeral arrangements, writing a will, giving away prized possessions).
- Preoccupation with death.
- Changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts and/or feelings.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
Suicide Risk Factors
Although far from perfect predictors, certain characteristics are associated with increased odds of having suicidal thoughts. These include:
- Mental illness including depression, conduct disorders, and substance abuse.
- Family stress/dysfunction.
- Environmental risks, including presence of a firearm in the home.
- Situational crises (e.g., traumatic death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, family violence).
- Previous suicide attempt
- Decline of health
- Relationship issues
- Death or illness of a loved one
- Decrease in grades or performances
- Family history of depression
- Someone close to you has died by suicide
What to Do
Youth who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly; however, parents, school personnel, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to keep the youth safe. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:
- Remain calm.
- Ask the youth directly if he or she is thinking about suicide (e.g., "Are you thinking of suicide?"). Asking the suicide question does not increase the risk.
- How not to ask the question - "You're not suicidal are you?"
- Focus on your concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
- Listen to the problem and give them your full attention.
- Offer help in any form.
- Then ask, "Will you go with me to get help?" or "Will you let me help you?" and "Will you promise not to kill yourself until we've found some help?"
- Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.
- Do not judge.
- Provide constant supervision. Do not leave the youth alone.
- Remove means for self-harm.
- Get help: No one should ever agree to keep a youth's suicidal thoughts a secret and instead should tell an appropriate caregiving 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 a school-employed mental health professional or administrator.
LINKS FOR RESOURCES:
Any willingness to accept help, even if in the future, is a good outcome. The best referral involves taking the person directly to someone who can help. The next best referral is getting a commitment from them to accept help, and then making the arrangements to get that help.
A number of resources are available to support students and their families in crisis:
Colorado Crisis Support Line: 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or Colorado Crisis Text: text TALK to 38255
Safe2Tell: 1-877-542-SAFE (7233)
Trevor Project Hotline for Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ youth 866-488-7386
- SOURCES OF STRENGTH
will be implemented at the following schools: Northridge High School, Greeley West High School, Greeley Central High School, Jefferson Senior and Junior High Schools, Heath Middle School, Brentwood Middle School.
See more about Sources of Strength at Sources of Strength website
- YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
Many of District 6 teachers have been trained in YMHFA and some schools have been opting to train their entire staff!