Suicide Prevention and Intervention
Facts About Suicide
The National Association of School Psychologists cites the following factors that increase suicide risk for school-age children:
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Isolation and aloneness
- Non-suicidal self-injury (e.g., cutting)
- Mental illness including depression, conduct disorders, and substance abuse
- Family stress/dysfunction
- Family history of suicide
- Environmental risks, including presence of a firearm in the home
- Situational crises (e.g., the presence of a gun in the home, bullying and harassment, serious disciplinary action, death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, breakup of a relationship/friendship, family violence, suicide of a peer)
The National Association of School Psychologists cites the following protective factors that promote resilience and may help decrease a student’s suicide risk:
- Receiving effective mental health care
- Connecting positively to family, peers, community and social institutions that foster resilience
- Learning and practicing effective problem-solving skills
- Positive parenting practices
- School connectedness
- Healthy parent-child relationships
While these factors do not eliminate the possibility of suicide they may help reduce risk even when risk factors are present.
According to The Jason Foundation dedicated to the prevention of youth suicide, four out of five teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs:
- Suicide threats: “I’d be better off dead”, “You’re better off without me”, “I hate my life”
- Depression: includes social withdrawal, lack of hygiene, sudden changes in personality
- Anger, increased irritability
- Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Sudden increase/decrease in appetite
- Sudden changes in appearance
- Dwindling academic performance
- Preoccupation with death and suicide seen through: social media posts and comments, writings and artwork, talking frequently about death and dying
- Increased risk-taking behavior or substance use
- Final arrangements: giving away prized and favorite possessions, saying goodbye to family and friends, making funeral arrangements
What to do
- Remain calm, nonjudgmental and listen
- Ask directly about suicide: “Are you thinking about suicide?”
- Focus on concern for their well-being
- Avoid being accusatory: don’t say, “You aren’t going to do anything stupid are you?”
- Reassure them that there is help, they will not feel like this forever
- Provide constant supervision. Do not leave youth alone.
- Remove means for self-harm, especially firearms
- Get help! Never agree to keep suicidal thoughts a secret. Tell an appropriate caregiving adult. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible.
Where to get help
*All numbers and services listed are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The Lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
Crisis Text Line text HOME to 741741
Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving
Adapt Crisis Hotline & Mobile Crisis 1-866-260-8000
Local mental health crisis hotline and mobile crisis team that covers Dallas, Hunt, Navarro, Kaufman, and Ellis counties.
The Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386 or Text START to 678678
Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
Riding the Waves is a curriculum used at our Elementary level for suicide prevention. The curriculum focuses on how students can learn to identify sources of stress and learn healthy ways of coping. These lessons are educational and not therapeutic. Our 5th graders receive these lessons each year.
Signs of Suicide is our current suicide prevention curriculum used at the secondary level. DMS, FSMS, and MHS will present SOS to 10th graders during the end of Sept and into October. HHS and WGMS will present in the Spring. School Counselors will present the material during a core class to ensure all students are able to be involved in the presentation. An opt out option will be offered to families, if parents/guardians do not want their student to participate. Counselors present in class, at the end of the presentation students complete a form about whether they would like to speak with a counselor that day about any concerns. Other counselors from the district are available to follow up with students immediately following the presentation. SOS curriculum is presented to 7th and 10th grades across the district.