Suicide Prevention
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Real Talks

September’s guidance focuses on suicide prevention as this coincides with the national suicide prevention month. While our secondary students focus on how to request help for themselves or a friend, our elementary students focus on a topic more age appropriate, “Making Healthy Choices.” Please consider engaging your child in these same topics of conversation at home.

For parents of elementary students, the emphasis with our lower elementary grades is to identify feelings, to talk about them and discuss ways to deal with our feelings. In upper elementary, our guidance further stresses coping strategies and solutions. Coping in this case is defined as working through difficulty in positive ways. Life may bring a series of ups and downs and teaching our children how to cope with life-changing events is of utmost importance. Life-changing events for elementary-aged children may include losing a relative or a family pet, moving, or parents divorcing. Developing resiliency in our kids when they are young will prepare them with greater coping skills as they enter youth.

In supporting suicide prevention at the secondary level, we have encouraged our youth to tell a trusted adult if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts themselves or if they recognize suicidal symptoms or statements from their peers. They (or their peers) may be likely to share/post statements through social media avenues such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. A friend may be the first line of defense in preventing another’s death.

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 10-24 year olds. In national surveys, almost 20 percent of high school students reported thinking about suicide. Contrary to myth, talking to your child about suicide does not encourage your child to commit suicide. We can’t afford to ignore the topic with our children’s lives at stake as we may be able to help prevent suicide in our own family or in others by recognizing warning signs. Although warning signs may not always be present, they are present more often than not. Something to remember:

Suicide knows no boundaries. Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, and ethnic boundaries. 

Some possible warning signs (arranged in the acronym, FACTS) include:

Feelings – feelings of hopelessness, anger, worthlessness, emptiness, anxiousness, or excessive worry

Actions – actions including trying to get access to a gun or pills, risky or dangerous behaviors, increasing drug or alcohol use, getting into fights, making plans/final arrangements, writing or drawing about death

Changes – change in mood, attitude, or behaviors (becoming more withdrawn, quitting activities, skipping classes, change in grades, change in habits)

Threats – threats or verbal statements such as 1) I’m tired of living. 2) I’m going to kill myself. 3) You won’t have me around much longer to bother you. Other statements made in social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

Situation(s) – situations may serve as a trigger for suicide. Your child’s coping skills may be challenged, and therefore, he/she may not see a viable solution. Situations that may cause added stress include: loss (family divorce, health problems, economic problems)or death; getting in trouble at home, school or with the law; a break-up such as with a boyfriend/girlfriend; impending changes or uncertainty for your child.

Talking Points:

  • Talk to your son/daughter in a calm and non-accusatory way; interact in positive ways

  • Encourage your child to come to you when he/she (or one of his/her friends) is having thoughts of hurting or killing him/herself

  • Let him/her know you care about and love him/her

  • Convey how important he/she is to you

  • Focus on your concern for his/her well-being

  • Make statements that convey you have empathy for his/her stress

  • Recognize when you need to seek professional help for your child

In cases of emergency, dial 911 or go to a hospital.

Most area mental health hospitals provide a free suicide risk assessment to assist in determining the level of care your child may need.

Some area resources available to your family include:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Red Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio

Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas (Dallas, Tarrant, and Denton counties) 866-672-5100

Denton County MHMR 800-762-0157

Helen Farabee Regional MHMR (Wise County) 800-621-8504