Get Ready for School

August 04, 2017

News Type:  Director's Corner
Author:  Jerry Reed, PhD, MSW, SPRC Director, Education Development Center, Inc.

August is a time when many people head to the beach or mountains to take a well-deserved break from their jobs, find relief from the heat, and spend time with friends and family. But for school teachers and administrators, August is spent writing lesson plans and attending to the many things that need to be done before school starts. Now is an ideal time to help these hard-working folks put suicide prevention on their school’s agenda for the next academic year. I ask that each of us take a few minutes this month to reach out to our local schools and let them know about two SPRC resources that can help high school teachers and students prevent suicide among teens.

The Role of High School Teachers in Preventing Suicide will help educators understand how they can help prevent suicide. High school teachers are on the front lines of teen suicide prevention. They are in a position to notice changes in attitude, behavior, or school performance that could indicate a student is experiencing emotional stress or at increased risk for suicide. Recognizing and responding to the warning signs of suicide among young people is an essential skill for every teacher.

Suicide Prevention Resources for Teens provides teens with online resources to help them find support for the problems that can put them at risk for suicide. Teens can be reluctant to confide in adults when they or their friends are struggling. Knowing that help is available is the first step in coping with the emotional difficulties and life stressors that can lead adolescents to consider suicide. While we hope that all teens can find a caring adult to bring their problems to, this publication can provide a path to safety and recovery for young people who need additional help.

The field of suicide prevention began with a concern about teen suicide. As the field matured, we became aware that because suicide rates increase with age, we must also prevent substantial numbers of suicides among adults to reach our national goal of reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025. But we have also learned that identifying and treating mental illness and substance use disorders that often first emerge in adolescence, and helping teens develop coping and help-seeking skills, will protect young people from suicide risk as they age. Such efforts will help to reduce the suicide rate among adults.

High school students and their teachers can’t solve all of the problems that young people face. But they can help students find the support they need to cope with these problems. Let’s put suicide prevention on the agenda for the new school year by reaching out to schools and letting them know how The Role of High School Teachers in Preventing Suicide and Suicide Prevention Resources for Teens can help teachers and students save lives.

More information on how schools can support the efforts of teachers and students to prevent suicide can be found on the SPRC website.