September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

  • More than half (55%) reported that they experienced emotional abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, including being sworn at, being insulted, or being put down.
  • 11% experienced physical abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, including hitting, beating, kicking, or physically hurting the student.
  • Almost a third of students (29%) reported a parent or other adult in their home had lost a job.
  • A history of depression or other psychiatric conditions
  • Prior suicide attempts
  • Verbalizations of suicidality and/or a preoccupation with death
  • Expressions of hopelessness, feeling trapped, of being a burden to others
  • Mental health or developmental conditions and behaviors that increase impulsiveness and decrease judgment, such as ADHD and substance abuse
  • A family history of suicide
  • Having a friend or even being aware of a celebrity who died by suicide
  • Sudden mood changes, including an unexpected shift to an upbeat mood
  • Behavior changes, such as social withdrawal
  • Changes in appearance or hygiene practices
  • Recent deaths or other losses
  • A sudden drop in grades or academic engagement
  • An event or situation that represents a significant blow to self-esteem or a sense of belonging, or that involves public humiliation
  • A history of trauma, including bullying and sexual/physical/emotional abuse
  • Giving away possessions
  • Re-assess and strengthen Tier 1 capacity within their Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework. This might include building or expanding universal screening activities, re-examining what screening tools and methods are used, as well as the timing and frequency of such screenings. This might also include a renewed commitment to the district’s SEL curriculum.
  • Regularly circulate information to parents, teachers, and other district staff about suicide warning signs and about groups that are particularly at risk (e.g., students with ADHD, trauma histories, depression, or substance abuse problems; gender non-conforming students; minority students). Even very young children can be in deep emotional pain and may want to die even though they do not understand the permanence of death.
  • Offer professional development opportunities for staff to help them build confidence and skill in talking to students about difficult topics in developmentally appropriate ways.
  • Circulate and post information about school-based mental health services as well as community resources, including local suicide hotlines and emergency department numbers, and the new national hotline number, 988.
  • Encourage teachers and other staff to refer students to on-site counselors.
  • Encourage parents to get professional help for students who are showing any of the warning signs of suicide.
  • Ensure that school and community counselors work with at-risk students to develop a safety plan that includes the names and contact information for individuals to reach out to if they are feeling suicidal.
  • Offer training workshops for parents about how to monitor their children’s online activity, about how to talk with their children about difficult topics like suicide, and about maximizing home safety (e.g., importance of securing guns, medication, and alcohol).
  • Revisit and reinforce anti-bullying initiatives.
  • Use physical education classes to inform students about the mental health struggles of sports stars like Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, and Michael Phelps to de-stigmatize seeking help.
  • Engage parents and staff in efforts to design and implement “school connectedness” initiatives.
  • Develop a protocol and identify specialists to actively respond to community suicides or other tragic deaths on a school-wide basis.
  • Foster a school culture that puts academic and other achievements into proper perspective, promoting a balanced approach to growth and education. An over-emphasis on grades and winning can put undue pressure on students and contribute to feelings of hopelessness.

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Effective School Solutions

Effective School Solutions

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Reinventing K-12 Mental Health Care. Effective School Solution partners with school districts to help develop K-12 whole-school mental health programs.