For Students, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Resources

Students, is Covid-19 getting you down? Your friends have the blues? If you are concerned about your own mental health or the well-being of others, resources are available on the website of the Suicide Prevention Center of New York State (SPCNY).

 

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The center urges students to take care of themselves and to be alert to classmates who may be struggling.

“You usually know what is happening before the adults in your school,” says SPCNY. “You have your ear to the ground, you catch rumors, gossip, the buzz on social medial, and you are usually the first ones to know if a peer is in trouble.

“A lot of kids struggle with feeling down or sad that they sometimes are unable to participate in normal activities. Some kids feel so bad that they think about suicide or even make suicide attempts. Some kids actually take their own lives.”

SPCNY notes that young people might be the first to see WARNING SIGNS that indicate that somebody they know may be thinking about suicide.

Click here for a fact sheet to learn more about the warning signs and how to respond to them.

“It is important to take your observations seriously,” SPCNY says. “Do not ignore them or assume your friend is just being dramatic. If you notice any of these warning signs, tell an adult. What you see may be a signal that your friend is thinking about suicide, and that is not something you can deal with on your own.

“If your friend or someone you know makes a direct suicide threat, IMMEDIATELY tell a trusted adult. They might include someone from school like a teacher or a coach, or someone from your church, temple, neighborhood, or family. Whoever that person is, share your concerns and let them take action. If you have immediate concerns about your friend’s safety, before you speak with a trusted adult, call 911!”

What do you do if you are having thoughts about suicide?

“First, know that it is really brave to recognize that you are having suicidal thoughts. Next, do the same thing you would do for your friend—tell a trusted adult. Just as you can’t help your friend by yourself, you need to ask for help too.

“There are lots of resources and skilled professionals who can help figure out why you feel that your life may not be worth living. They will also be able to help you stop feeling that way. Suicide is not just a reaction to stress—something more serious is going on and it is important to get help as soon as you can!

“If you are unsure of what to do, you can call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “GOT5” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. You do not have to identify yourself if you would rather stay anonymous. Someone who has special training in helping people who have questions or concerns will be available to speak or text with you.”

Other SPCNY-recommended resources for students:

What Every Student Needs to Know: The Warning Signs of Suicide Risk

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline youth page

The Trevor Project is a resource for LGBTQ teens

JED Foundation

Suicide Awareness Voices for Education (SAVE)

Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]

Celebrating John R. Lewis, Suicide Prevention Champion

While we all celebrate the great contributions to America by civil rights leader John R. Lewis, the suicide prevention community remembers him also as the first person in our House of Representatives to publicly step into the fearsome and taboo subject of suicide and call on this country to recognize that the prevention of death by suicide is a “national priority.”

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John R. Lewis, speaking at the Lincoln Memorial, August 24, 2013

Congressman Lewis of Georgia, who died last week at age 80, was the first in the House to speak out and speak up. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada introduced a similar resolution in the Senate at nearly the same time in the same year. Reid had lost his father to suicide and chose to speak openly about his loss to the world.

Motivating John Lewis were Elsie and Jerry Weyrauch, who had lost their daughter to suicide—a promising young doctor. John Lewis was their congressman. He took their cause to Congress and sparked the fire that led to national action—or, in his words, some “necessary trouble.”

Thus, three loss survivors (Elsie, Jerry, and Harry), together with John Lewis, launched those key “first movements” that began only in 1997.  These bold actions not only broke through the barriers of shame and stigma, they fueled the first ever national movement to prevent suicide.

House Resolution 212 of the 105th Congress, introduced by Lewis with 92 co-sponsors on July 31, 1997 and adopted by the House, declared that “the House of Representatives recognizes suicide as a national problem and declares suicide prevention a national priority, acknowledges that no single prevention program will be appropriate for all populations or communities, and encourages certain initiatives, including the development (and the promotion of accessibility and affordability) of mental health services to enable all persons at risk for suicide to obtain services without fear of stigma.”

HR 212 and Reid’s resolution in the Senate were followed by the National Suicide Prevention Conference in Reno in 1998, viewed by many as the founding event of the modern suicide prevention movement.

Margret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” These brave few prove her case.

We may be running a little low on heroes just now, but we in suicide prevention will always have our John R. Lewis.

—By Paul Quinnett

Paul Quinnett is founder and CEO of the QPR Institute and author of Suicide: The Forever Decision

For School Staff, Suicide Prevention Resources

Teens may have a tough time coping emotionally with the stress, fear, and uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. AAP says that feeling depressed, hopeless, anxious or angry are signs that they may need more support.

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For school administrators and teachers preparing to address student mental health challenges in the next school year, resources are available on the website of the Suicide Prevention Center  of New York State (SPCNY).

“Staff are uniquely positioned to identify warning signs and subtle behavior changes, and schools should plan for what to do if suicide risk is identified,” says SPCNY. The center urges school districts develop written procedures for staff to follow when warning signs of suicide are observed or suspected.

SPCNY cites a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey showing that 31.4 percent of New York State high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless, 17.2 percent seriously considered attempting suicide, and 7.4 percent reported a suicide attempt in the previous 12 months. “Because youth spend a large proportion of their time in school, schools play a central role in New York State’s effort to prevent suicide,” SPCNY says.

SPCNY’s website lists several suicide prevention training programs designed specifically for school staff. They include trainings on recognizing warning signs, helping at-risk students, and responding to a suicide or other traumatic death in the school community.

The website also lists resources for educators:

Crisis Text Line Marketing Toolkit

Kognito’s At Risk online modules can be accessed for free by New York City educators

Warning signs video

Warm handoff video

Act on Facts: Making Educators Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention – Three-minute trailer and full training modules

Sources of Strength is a suicide-prevention program that utilizes peer leaders to change unhealthy norms and culture and, ultimately, prevent bullying, substance use, and suicide.

Good Behavior Game is an evidence-based classroom program that improves self-regulation and co-regulation among 1st and 2nd graders. Longitudinal studies have found decreases in suicide, mental health problems, and substance use, among other outcomes.

JED Foundation provides resources and information for High School personnel

School Mental Health and High School Curriculum Guide

SPCNY also produced “A Guide for Suicide Prevention in New York Schools.” (Download PDF) The guide provides an overview of suicide risk factors, warning signs, and protective factors. It also outlines a wealth of information on prevention programs, targeting higher risk groups for support, and providing individualized intervention.

nys youth suicide guide

According to SPCNY, deaths by suicide in New York State have increased by 32 percent in the past decade, in stark contrast to gradual reductions in the death rate for other diseases such as cancer, heart disease or stroke. The rate of suicide in all age groups has continued to steadily rise in the last decade and the rate of suicide death among children 10 to 14 has doubled in that same time frame.

“Addressing the problem of youth suicide requires collaborative action across a variety of community agencies, but schools have logically assumed more of a leadership role in identifying, referring, and aiding youth with mental health needs,” SPCNY says. “Schools also play a critical role in promoting psychosocial competencies that reduce vulnerability to suicide.”

SPCNY notes that given that the developmental trajectory for suicide risk can begin early in life, schools are uniquely positioned for building resilience among their students and developing a caring community within a positive school climate and culture necessary for the prevention of suicide.

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]

 

 

Congratulations, High School Class of 2020

In case you missed it, check out the wonderful high school graduation celebration broadcast on most channels Saturday evening May 16.

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The event was organized by The LeBron James Family Foundation and partners, and featured a message from LeBron James and a commencement address by former President Barack Obama.

The 1-hour celebration opened with a moving Star-Spangled Banner sung by an online chorus of graduating seniors.

The event also included appearances by Megan Rapinoe, Yara Shahidi, Olivia Wilde, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, Zendaya, Bad Bunny, Timothée Chalamet, David Dobrik, Kevin Hart, H.E.R., Chris Harrison, Jonas Brothers featuring Karol G, Alicia Keys, Liza Koshy, Julianne Moore, Maren Morris, Kumail Nanjiani, Shaquille O’Neal, and Ben Platt.