Why do I need to watch for suicide?

   Suicide is the third leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24 in the U.S.
   For each suicide death, family and close friends are at higher risk for suicide themselves.
   If you are concerned, don't wait to talk to your student.
   Knowing the risk factors and warning signs helps you help your student with concerns about himself or another student.
   Asking directly about suicide tells your student it's ok to talk about it with you.
   Take all suicidal thoughts, threats and behaviors seriously.
   Most suicidal people want to end severe emotional pain.
   Emotional pain makes it hard to think clearly, consider options or remember reasons for living.  

Risk factors

Prior suicide attempt

   This is the strongest predictor of future attempts.


Mental illness

   1 in 5 teens will have depression at some point.
   Many teens with depression are undiagnosed.
   Childhood depression often continues into adulthood, especially if left untreated.


Interpersonal conflict

   Bullying: In-person or cyberbullying.
   Trauma: Examples include injury, assault, legal trouble, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
   Relationship breakups: Impulsivity combined with a personal inability to think through consequences before acting can increase the risk for suicide following a breakup.
   Sexting: Tell your students to never take images they don't want classmates, family or future employers to see. Forwarding a sexual picture of a minor is a crime.
   Recent loss: Examples include moving, changing schools, divorce, or death of a loved one.
   Questioning sexual orientation.  

Warning signs

Call 911 if:
   A suicide attempt has been made.
   A weapon is present.
The person is out of control.
   The person makes a serious threat to kill himself or herself such as:
"I wish I were dead."
"If ...... doesn't happen, I'll kill myself."
"What's the point of living?"
   Looks for a way to carry out a suicide plan.
   Talks about death or suicide in text messages, on social media sites or in poems/music.
   Gives away possessions.
   Rage, anger or seeking revenge.
   Reckless or risky behavior.
   Expressions of feeling trapped, like there's no way out.
   Alcohol or drug use.
   Withdrawal from family or friends.
   Anxiety, agitation or sleep irregularity.
   Dramatic mood changes.
   Discussions of no reason for living or no sense of purpose.


What you can do right now:

   Know suicide risk factors and warning signs.
   Share this website with your student (www.ruok.help).
Have a conversation about what your student should do if he is concerned about himself or a friend.
   Promote skills in problem-solving and conflict resolution.
   Maintain a supportive and involved relationship with your student.
   Encourage participation in sports, activities at school/place of worship or volunteering.
   Help your student develop strong communication skills.Get medical care for depression and substance use.
   Don't leave a depressed or suicidal sibling home alone.
   Most suicides occur in the early afternoon/evening in the student's home.  

Remove these items or secure in your home:

Prescription and over-the-counter medications
   Keep medications, including vitamins with iron, where your kids or their friends cannot access them.
   Don't keep lethal doses of medication on hand. A pharmacist can advise you on safe quantities.  

Alcohol and drugs

   Talk to your students about substance use as a major risk factor for suicide.
   If your teen has a pattern of substance use, seek mental health care. Substance use could be an attempt to self-medicate a mental illness.
   Substance use makes youth more likely to choose lethal means, such as guns. Remove firearms from your home.


   Lock up potentially harmful common household products, including household cleaners, products containing alcohol (such as mouthwash, hand sanitizer, etc.), and cosmetics (such as nail polish remover, perfume, etc.).


   Remove firearms from your home. More than half of all suicide deaths result from a gunshot wound.


Talking to your kids

How to start a conversation after a relationship breakup:

   What did you notice about yourself in the relationship?
   What is positive? What would you like to change?
   Were there patterns or issues that brought you into this relationship or caused it to end?
   What are your priorities and preferences in life?
   Who are you on your own and how do you want to live your life?

How to start a conversation about suicide:

   "I have been feeling concerned about you lately."
   "Lately, I've noticed some differences in you. How are you doing?"
   "What happened? It might help to talk about it."


Questions you can ask:

   "When did you begin feeling like this?"
   "Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?"
   "How can I support you right now?"
   "Could you tell me more about that?"


What to say that can help:

   "You are not alone – I'm here for you."
   "I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I love you and want to help."
   "I think you feel there is no way out. Let's talk about some options.”


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