Suicide Notes. These are a very real sign of danger and should be taken seriously
Threats. Threats may be direct (“I want to die.” “I am going to kill myself.”) or, unfortunately, indirect (“The world would be better without me,” “Nobody will miss me anyway”). In adolescence, indirect clues could be offered through joking or through references in school assignments, particularly creative writing or art pieces. Young children and those who view the world in more concrete terms may not be able to express their feelings in words, but provide indirect clues in the form of acting-out, violent behavior, often accompanied by suicidal/homicidal threats.
Previous Attempts. Often the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, which can indicate a coping style.
Depression. (Helplessness/hopelessness). When symptoms of depression include pervasive thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness, a child or adolescent is conceivably at greater risk for suicide.
Masked Depression. Risk-taking behaviors can include acts of aggression, gunplay, and alcohol/substance abuse.
Final Arrangements. This behavior may take many forms. In adolescents, it might be giving away prized possessions such as jewelry, clothing, journals or pictures.
Efforts to Hurt Oneself. Self-mutilating behaviors occur among children as young as elementary school-age. Common self-destructive behaviors include running into traffic, jumping from heights, and scratching/cutting/marking the body.
Inability to Concentrate or Think Rationally. Such problems may be reflected in children’s classroom behavior, homework habits, academic performance, household chores, even conversation.
Changes in Physical Appearance. Changes include inability to sleep or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss, disinterest in appearance, hygiene, etc.
Sudden Changes in Personality, Friends, Behaviors. Parents, teachers and peers are often the best observers of sudden changes in suicidal students. Changes can include withdrawing from normal relationships, increased absenteeism in school, loss of involvement in regular interests or activities, and social withdrawal and isolation.
Death and Suicidal Themes. These might appear in classroom drawings, work samples, journals or homework.
Plan/Method/Access. A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased focus on guns and other weapons, increased access to guns, pills, etc., and/or may talk about or allude to a suicide plan. The greater the planning, the greater the potential.
Tips for Staff
Know the Warning Signs(above)!!!
Know your role. Ultimately, keeping students safe and supported is of utmost importance. Reporting/referring students immediately, protect yourself and our school by taking action and following up until child is safe is critical.
Reach out to your students. Let students know that you are there to help, that you care. Encourage them to come to you if they or someone they know is considering suicide.
Refer student immediatelyto a counselor or administrator. Escort the child yourself or contact security, admin, a counselor or certificated adult for assistance immediately if you suspect a student is suicidal. Do not leave them unattended or send them to find help. Do not use email to call for immediate help.
Advocate for the child. Someone else could minimize risk factors and warning signs in a particular student. Advocate for the child until you are certain the child is safe.
Focus on your concernfor their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
Do not judge.
Remove means for self-harm.
DO NOT agree to keep a youth's suicidal thoughts a secret.
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