September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
This month is a time to raise awareness about suicide, become knowledgeable about mental health resources and reduce stigma about this topic that is often seen as taboo by many.
Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of untreated depression and a sense of hopelessness. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious problems.
Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide in the United States, leaving behind their friends and family to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, those affected by a suicide loss are left in the dark and sometimes feel guilt about what they might have done or not done that could have helped. Too often, the feelings of shame and stigma of suicide prevent them from talking openly.
Warning signs that might indicate a higher probability of suicide:
- A previous suicide attempt
- Belief that their problems are not solvable. Unsolvable problems promote feelings of hopelessness
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Social withdrawal from family and friends or lack of a support network
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
- Talking, writing or thinking about death
- Giving away possessions
- Threats or comments about killing themselves, such as “I wish I wasn’t here.”
- Easy access to tools needed to commit suicide, such as firearms or prescription medication
Prevention is key! Things that you can do in your classroom:
- Connect and get to know your students well
- Let your students know you care
- Teach problem solving skills
- Promote resiliency in spite of adversity
- Share mental health resources with your students
If you or someone you know is suicidal, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(800)-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
For more mental health resources, go to PANDA’s website.
NOTE: In August 2017, the State of Minnesota added Suicide Prevention requirements for teacher re-licensure. Wendy Sweeney, MA LP, PANDA Grant Coordinator, will be presenting a workshop on suicide prevention at fall regional events.
Resource: NAMI-National Alliance on Mental Illness, nami.org
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