Suicide is Preventable - Here's How to Help

Suicide Prevention Awareness MonthSeptember is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Each week this month, Douglas County School District (DCSD) will provide information and tips on how to prevent suicide from occurring in our community.

Many people may not realize that suicide is the second leading cause of death for middle and high school-aged students, as reported by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is surpassed only by “unintentional injury.”

Suicide is preventable, though. Four out of five teens who attempted to end their lives have given clear warning signs or “invitations” to those around them to engage. That means that in 80 percent of cases, we have an opportunity to intervene and save a young person’s life.

There are signs you can watch for (see below). But there are also preventative activities you can begin with. Next week, we will discuss prevention programs in DCSD schools.

Where do I begin?

  • Model the mental health behavior you want to see in your kids: You may wish to share examples of how you are taking care of your own mental health, such as exercising, talking to someone, asking for help, speaking honestly about your emotions, or doing something you enjoy.

  • Break down barriers and stigmas by talking bluntly about mental health: A straightforward conversation about being okay to not always feel okay can help remove barriers in the future and provide an invitation for future conversations.

What are possible signs of someone contemplating suicide?

  • Depression: Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness; behaviors or comments that indicate overwhelming feelings of sadness or pessimistic views of their future.

  • “Masked” Depression: While your child or another individual may not act "depressed," their behavior suggests that they are not concerned about their own safety. This may include acts of aggression, gunplay and alcohol/substance abuse.

  • Inability to concentrate or think clearly: Such problems may be reflected in classroom behavior, homework habits, academic performance, household chores and even in conversation. If your child starts getting poor grades, acting up in class, forgetting or poorly performing chores around the house, or talking in a way that suggests they are having trouble concentrating, these might be signs of stress and risk for suicide.

View more possible signs of someone contemplating suicide

What do I say to my child, friend, or loved one?

The most important thing someone can do is talk about it with the individual who may be showing signs of being suicidal. Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of the individual taking his or her own life. How you ask the question is less important than that you ask for it:

  • Don't ask the question - "You're not suicidal are you?"

  • Ask directly - "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"

  • Talk to the person alone in a private setting.

Suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insolvable problem.

  • Listen to the problem and give them your full attention.

  • Offer help in any form.

  • Then ask, "Will you go with me to get help?" or "Will you let me help you?"

  • Ask, "Will you promise not to kill yourself until we've found some help?"

View more information and resources on suicide prevention

Where do I go for help?

Once you’ve had the conversation with your child, friend, or loved one, there are suicide hotlines and resources where you can go to get help:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-844-493-2855
or text "TALK" to 38255

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