What are the warning signs?
Adolescents experience many life stressors as they transition from child to adulthood, and therefore, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between depression or suicidal intention and normal teenage moodiness.
Making things even more complicated, suicidal teens do not necessarily appear sad, nor will they always withdraw from others. For some, symptoms of irritability, stress, aggression, and rage are more prominent.
Simply put, warning signs come in many forms, so it is important to take all situations seriously as an educator. Any warning sign is worth asking about – you could save a student’s life.
Direct verbal clues could include statements such like:
- I’ve decided to kill myself
- I wish I were dead
- I’m going to commit suicide
- I’m going to end it all
- If (such and such) doesn’t happen, I’ll kill myself
Indirect verbal clues could include statements like:
- I’m tired of life
- What’s the point of going on?
- My family/friends/classmates would be better off without me
Common warning signs that you may notice as an educator include:
- Recent disappointment or rejection (e.g. Not making a school sports team or musical group.)
- Sudden decline or improvement in academic performance (e.g. Failing/acing a test when they normally fail/ace that particular subject or expelled from school)
- Change in interaction with friends
- Feeling embarrassed or humiliated in front of peers
- Victim of assault or bullying
- Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts
- Talking, reading, or writing about death or suicide (Examples: Writing in school assignments, writing on school property, writing or drawing about death on notebooks etc.)
- Increased or inappropriate anger or rage (Example: Lashing out at classmates)
Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline
If a student is experiencing a mental health crisis or medical emergency, call toll-free at 800.273.8255. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
Not sure what to do or who to talk to? Refer to your school's suicide policy
HELPING YOUR STUDENT