Each year our school participates in World Suicide Awareness Day in September. In the United States alone, the number of youth suicides has reached over 4,000 deaths per year. According to Peter Wyman, prevention programs beginning in childhood may significantly reduce suicide rates across the lifespan. Currently in the suicide prevention community, there is a call to change how professionals talk about suicide. School counselors have an opportunity to change our conversations about suicide prevention from grim pictures about death and violence to a call of hope, help, and action. Also, it is imperative that school counselors be aware of the dangerous national trends when talking to students about bullying, violence and suicide prevention.
Some best practices in suicide prevention in schools include:
- Increasing protective factors for children and youth
- Incorporating a peer helping group to:
- Spread messages around school that change acceptable norms about violence, bullying, and suicide.
- Promote student pledges to stop violence, bullying, and suicide.
- Interrupting harassment among students who are at-risk for bullying and suicide.
- Educating new students about norms in the school regarding suicide prevention and violence.
- Connecting and making relationships with disconnected students who at-risk.
- Breaking silence regarding suicide awareness.
- Educating adults about suicide prevention.
- Promoting resiliency in students who suffer from trauma.
Dangerous Bullying and Suicide National Trends:
- Education students and staff members that bullied students are suicidal.
- No Tolerance Programs – punitive programs regarding bullying.
- Adult training only – adults will handle the problems without students.
- Peer training only – peers are expected to educate the students without adults.
- Multi-focused programs training both staff and students.
- Peer leaders changing norms – tolerance and relational connectedness.
- Use a continuum of responses.
- Understand that the cyber world and real world are not separate for students.
- Adults and students work together to create policies and discipline strategies.
Below are great resources to find information, webinars, and resources to start your suicide prevention plan and promote suicide awareness in your school.
American Association of Suicidology-contains a timeline, press release, proclamation, and ideas for promoting suicide awareness.
Safe Messaging for Suicide Prevention
Youth Suicide Guide for Schools
Youth Suicide Prevention Guide-New York
Save.org-products, community activities, resources, and newsletter.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center-webinars, warning signs, statistics, and resources.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline– a free 24/7 lifeline for people who are in crisis.
International Association for Suicide Prevention-suicidal behavior in adolescents, contagion, postvention, and helplines.
National Institute of Mental Health-publications, resources, statistics, and prevention ideas.
Centers for Disease Control-fact sheets, featured resources, and featured programs.
Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide-information about memorials, information for educators, suicide curriculum, and warning signs.
Suicide.org-suicide myths, stigma and suicide, websites, warning signs, and resources.
Signs of Suicide Brochures
School Based Prevention Screenings
Square-assessments and resources from Australia.
Websites for State-Specific Suicide Data
Sources of Strength Startup Kit
Sources of Strength Webinars
Suicide Prevention Kit-state resources and websites.
Preventing Suicide Kit High Schools
LGBTQ Youth Workshop
After a Suicide Kit
Youth Suicide Prevention Webinar
Adolescent Suicide Prevention Manual for Native Americans