Parents » Suicide Prevention- Assessing Suicide Risk & Taking Proper Action

Suicide Prevention- Assessing Suicide Risk & Taking Proper Action

Warning Signs of Suicide
  • Ideation (thinking, talking or wishing about suicide)
  • Substance use or abuse (increased use or change in substance)
  • Purposelessness (no sense of purpose or belonging)
  • Trapped (feeling like there is no way out
  • Hopelessness (there is nothing to live for, no hope or optimism)
  • Withdrawal (from family, friends, work, school, activities, hobbies)
  • Anxiety (restlessness, irritability, agitation)
  • Recklessness (high risk-taking behavior)
  • Mood disturbance (dramatic changes in mood)

As a teacher, you have contact with young people who may deal with problems leading to self-harm or death.  Therefore, you are in a position to observe students’ behavior and act when you suspect a student may be at risk of self-harm.  Following are some steps to help students who may be at risk of suicide or other problems that threaten personal well-being.

Ask the person directly if he or she:
  • is having suicidal thoughts/ideas
  • has a plan to carry out the action
  • has access to lethal means

Take Action:
  • If you think the person might harm him or herself, do not leave the individual alone.
  • Share with the person your intent to get help.
  • Contact a school administrator, counselor, a suicide prevention line or your local EMS.

Common Misconceptions

"People who talk about suicide won't really do it."
Not True. Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats.  Statements like "you'll be sorry when I'm dead," or “I can't see any way out," -- no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

"If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her."
Not True.  Even the most severely depressed people are unsure about death, and most waver until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die.  Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want the pain to stop.  The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

"Talking about suicide may give someone the idea."
Not True.  You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide.  The opposite is true -- bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.
Information presented on Suicide Prevention is compiled from the following sources:
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