Suicide Is Preventable: The district encourages everyone to be aware of the warning signs. Learn what family members, friends, and educators can do.
The statistics show that teen suicide is on the rise. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, suicide can be prevented. Experts agree that everyone needs to get to a place where everybody, everywhere asks questions that help identify at-risk individuals and get them the help that they need. Together, we can prevent these unnecessary tragedies.
Dr. Charlotte J. Davis, Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services, oversees school counselors. The district has school counselors, social workers, and licensed school psychologists available to work with students in need of assistance.
“We provide access to school-based mental health services and supports to directly improve students’ physical and psychological safety, academic performance, and social-emotional learning,” said Davis. “The district has trained staff to work with students and their families. We can provide resources to help students, their families, and staff members experiencing emotional trauma. Everyone works together to determine the appropriate level of treatment.”
Davis’ staff members receive training on suicide prevention, crisis intervention, early warning signs of mental health issues, and risky behaviors. For more information, visit the district’s Guidance and Counseling Department webpages.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people ages 15-24 years old, and it does not discriminate. Anyone, no matter his or her age, race, ethnicity, or socio-economic background, can be suicidal.
Warning signs someone may be thinking about suicide need to be taken seriously. Signs can include:
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Expressed suicidal thoughts or actions
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
- Substance abuse (e.g., alcohol, drug use)
- Aggressive behavior; a sudden change in eating and sleeping habits
- Sadness and hopelessness; low self-esteem
- Feels pressure to be perfect and overachieve; has an intolerance to failure or imperfection
- Doesn’t want to attend school due to harassment – known as bullying; a sudden drop in academic performance
- Previous suicide attempts
Even if the teen sounds sarcastic or joking – it is essential to take these statements and actions seriously; check in with your teen.
Youths 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, families, and friends should take the following measures:
- Remain calm and do not judge.
- Ask directly if he or she is considering suicide (e.g., “Are you thinking of suicide?”).
- Be willing to listen with care and concern.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available; reassure the youth that there is help and he or she will not feel like this forever.
- Remind him/her that nothing is urgent or forever.
- Take action to ensure his or her safety. For example, provide constant supervision. Monitor what the youth watches online. Do not leave him or her alone and remove means for self-harm (e.g., sharp objects, poison, medications).
- 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.
Persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention:
Mental Health Authority of Harris County
Crisis Line: 713-970-7000
Call: 800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336)
Text: TEEN to 839863
National Suicide Prevention
For Deaf & Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889
Teen (call): 832-416-1199
Teen (text): 281-201-4330
Information shared in this article came from various organizations, including the ones listed below. Visit their websites for more information and support (click on the links below):
Talk With Your Children: Good communication is the key to generating trust.
Many parents avoid mentioning the topic because they fear that, in doing so, they will incite suicide, but it is not so. That is a myth. Talking about suicide should not be a taboo. The important thing is to take into account the minor’s capacity to understand and reflect on taking his own life. Remember: you have to prevent it before you regret it.
Create an open space with your teen to have the conversation – even if it is hard. Sharing an ear, shoulder, hug, smile, or simple moment of connection today may be the beginning of the support your teen needs.
Even if your teen is not thinking about suicide, a friend of theirs may be thinking about it, or they may be worried about the topic in general. Knowing the pathways to get help opens the door to healing. Talking about tough issues and offering support opens the lines of communication, reduces risk, and can lead to getting the professional help your child may need.