Helping Give Away Psychological Science/Suicide Prevention in Schools

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This page brings together resources for preventing suicides in schools. For more generation information regarding suicidal ideation, visit our other page. For information regarding non-suicidal self injury, visit our NSSI page. These pages were curated by Helping Give Away Psychological Science, a non-profit focused on dissemination and connecting people to resources from which they could greatly benefit.

Hotlines[edit | edit source]

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or 988[edit | edit source]

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 1-800-950-6264[edit | edit source]

School Safety Hotline 1-877-729-7867[edit | edit source]

  • Anonymously report weapon violations, bomb threats, drug misuse, bullying, etc.

Crisis Text Line[edit | edit source]

Crisis Hotline for LGBTQIA+ Youth via the Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386[edit | edit source]

National Drug Addiction Hotline 1-844-289-0879[edit | edit source]

  • text ABOVE to 741741 for 24/7 anonymous free crisis counseling via Crisis Text Line

National Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline 1-800-422-4453[edit | edit source]

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233[edit | edit source]

  • text 1-800-787-3224

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)[edit | edit source]

Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline 1-800-656-4673[edit | edit source]

National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline 1-866-331-9474[edit | edit source]

Finding a Safe Place[edit | edit source]

Risk Factors[edit | edit source]

Bullying[edit | edit source]

General Resources[edit | edit source]

Stomp Out Bullying HelpChat Live

6 Ways to Be An Ally (English and Spanish)[1][edit | edit source]

  1. Support targets, whether you know them or not
  1. Don't participate
  2. Tell aggressors to stop
  3. Inform a trusted adult
  4. Get to know people instead of judging them
  5. Be an ally online

YRBS Findings on Students' experience with Bullying[2][edit | edit source]

  1. 14.9% of students nationwide have been electronically bullied (texts or any form of social media) in the last 12 months
  2. 19% of students nationwide have been bullied on school property in the last 12 months

Gender and Sexuality (Gender and Sexuality (LGBTQIA+)[edit | edit source]

General Resources[edit | edit source]

Crisis Hotline for LGBTQIA+ Youth via the Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386

Trevor Project

CDC Page on Resources for LGBTQIA+ youth

Resources via GLAAD for LGBTQIA+ community

YRBS Findings on LGBTQIA+ Students[2][edit | edit source]

  1. 14.6% of students nationwide did not identify as heterosexual
  2. 20.5% of non-heterosexual students nationwide reported having been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property
  3. 49.1% of non-heterosexual students nationwide reported having been electronically bullied
  4. 57.3% of non-heterosexual students nationwide reported having been bullied on school property
  5. 38.9% of non-heterosexual students nationwide reported having experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months
  6. 63.6% of non-heterosexual students nationwide reported having made a suicide plan in the last 12 months

Substance Abuse[edit | edit source]

General Resources[edit | edit source]

National Drug Addiction Hotline 1-844-289-0879

  • text ABOVE to 741741 for 24/7 anonymous free crisis counseling via Crisis Text Line

How does drug use affect high school grades?[3][edit | edit source]

  • Lower grades
  • Higher rate of absenteeism from school
  • Heavy marijuana use in teen years and continued into adulthood
  • Higher rates of school drop out

YRBS Findings on Students' experience with Substance Misuse[2][edit | edit source]

  1. 5.5% of students nationwide who drove a car had driven a car when they had been drinking alcohol
  2. 13% of students nationwide who drove a car had driven a car when they had been using marijuana
  3. 9.5% of students nationwide had first tried cigarette smoking before age 13
  4. 9.7% of students nationwide who currently smoke cigarettes reported smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day
  5. 42.2% of students nationwide reported having used an electronic vapor product
  6. 15.5% of students nationwide had their first drink of alcohol before age 13
  7. 13.5% of students nationwide reported having had 4 or more drinks of alcohol in a row (females) or 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row (males) at least one day in the last month
  8. 36.5% of students nationwide have used marijuana one or more times

Athletic Pressures[edit | edit source]

How to help a teen athlete deal with Sports Pressure[4][edit | edit source]

  • Encourage a balanced life
  • Change the mindset to "embrace the pressure and thrive"
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Recognize an injury
  • Don't allow sports to become your identity
  • Watch for substance misuse

YRBS Findings on Students' Health[2][edit | edit source]

  • 54.3% of students nationwide reported having played on at least one sports team in the last 12 months
  • 47.1% of students nationwide reported trying to lose weight
  • 31.5% of students nationwide identified as being slightly or very overweight
  • 15.1% of students nationwide had a concussion one or more times in the last 12 months

Trauma[edit | edit source]

General Resources[edit | edit source]

National Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline 1-800-422-4453

Experiences with bullying, wanting to run away, homelessness, feeling unsafe

Immigrants' Rights

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233

  • text 1-800-787-3224

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline 1-800-656-4673

National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline 1-866-331-9474

Finding a Safe Place

YRBS Findings on Students' experience with traumatic events[2][edit | edit source]

  1. 6.7% of students nationwide reported having not gone to school on at least one day due to feeling unsafe at school, or on their way to school
  2. 7.4% of students nationwide reported having been forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to
  3. 8% of students nationwide who reported having dated someone reported having been physically hurt on purpose by partner

Identifying Suicidal Behavior[edit | edit source]

Questions to ask a friend you are worried about[5][edit | edit source]

A good first step is often to ask your friend questions that might help you to identify if they are in danger of acting on suicidal feelings. It might feel scary to ask them these types of questions, but giving them the space to talk about their feelings may actually reduce the risk of them acting on them.  Some good questions to start with include:

  • Are you thinking about dying?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • Have you ever thought about suicide before?
  • Have you ever tried to hurt yourself before?
  • Have you thought about how or when you would do it?
  • Do you have access to any weapons or things you could use to harm yourself?

Identifying Warning Signs[6][edit | edit source]

Warning Signs that are Easy to Identify[edit | edit source]

The following signs can be observed by someone who is suicidal. While there isn’t a concrete pattern of what is typically demonstrated by those who feel suicidal, these are common to look out for

  • Expressing wanting to die or talking about dying in general
  • Expressing dark thoughts with no hope such as feeling empty, defeated, or having no way out of problems
  • Expressing intense feelings of guilt and shame
  • Expressing that others around them would be better off without them or mentioning having no will to live
  • Experiencing social withdrawal and isolation
  • Giving away personal or sentimental items
  • Saying goodbye to close friends and family

Less Obvious Warning Signs[edit | edit source]

While there are signs that are more observable in those who are suicidal, there are cases where others along with the individual themself may not realize how deeply hopeless they feel. It’s important to make note of the following signs since it could indicate that someone is feeling suicidal.

  • Unusual changes in behavior: While this is a common sign in those who feel suicidal, this isn’t easily observable or distinguishable from normal behavior.
  • Changes in normal sleeping patterns: Individuals who feel suicidal may struggle with their sleeping pattern, and it can look differently between individuals. Some may sleep more, less, struggle from fatigue as a result, and can experience more effort getting out of bad. This is a symptom that is important to track and check-in on even if the individual doesn’t appear to be suicidal.
  • Accessing harmful means: An individual gathering lethal means can be harmful since they can keep this hidden from others. It is important to be aware if they have access to lethal means because it increases the risk of suicide.
  • Emotional distance: Those who feel suicidal may become disconnected from activities or people that they valued or found joy in. They can act indifferent, and this is an important sign to check-in on since it can be a warning sign for depression as well.
  • Physical pain: Physiological symptoms that others should note is that they can experience headaches or general body pains. This isn’t an easy sign to detect, but it should be tended to especially when there’s no easy explanation for the symptoms.

What to do if your friend is suicidal[edit | edit source]

  • Offer immediate support
    • It’s important to validate your friend’s feelings and experiences. You can use phrases such as “I’m sorry you’re going through this” and “I know that you are in pain” to let them know that you hear them and want to help.
    • Let them know how much you care about them by telling them things like “You mean so much to me” and “I can’t imagine life without you”. Remember to stay calm and non-aggressive, and continue validating their feelings (avoid phrases such as “I know you don’t really want to do” and “Your life isn’t really that bad!” and “This will all blow over”).
  • Know when to act
    • If your friend has expressed that they are thinking about suicide, it is time to to seek help.
      • Encourage your friend to see a therapist/school counselor
      • If your friend refuses to seek professional help, but you believe they are a danger to themself, tell an adult you trust and ask them for help - even if your friend tells you not to.
    • If they express that they are actively suicidal, do not wait. If your friend has a therapist or psychiatrist, you can call them. You can also call a suicide hotline (link) or a trusted adult.

For more information, visit:

Subject classification: this is a psychology resource.

Prevention[edit | edit source]

Benefits of Early Interventions in Schools[7][edit | edit source]

  • Lower risk of relapse
  • Reduced risk of suicide
  • Reduced vocational/developmental disruption
  • Reduced family stress
  • Improved recovery
  • Reduced need for hospitalization

Destigmatizing mental health[8][edit | edit source]

Steps to cope with stigma[edit | edit source]

  1. Get treatment
  2. Don't let stigma create self-doubt and shame
  3. Don't isolate yourself
  4. Don't equate yourself with your illness
  5. Join a support group
  6. Get help at school
  7. Speak out against stigma

Self-Esteem[9][edit | edit source]

What is Self-Esteem?[edit | edit source]

  • Self-esteem is the confidence in one’s worth or abilities
  • Those who have low self-esteem generally have a negative opinion of themselves, their abilities, and their overall identity
  • Low self-esteem can look like:
    • Frequent self-criticism
    • Ignoring your positive qualities
    • Negative emotions (e.g. depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, etc.)
    • Relationship problems
    • The feeling of being “undeserving” of recreation and leisure
    • Problems maintaining self-care

Improving Self-Esteem[edit | edit source]

  • Improving self-esteem can seem like a difficult process and involves challenging and reconstructing deep-seated opinions of yourself. With time and practice, this process can become easier.
    • Challenge Biased Expectations

Self-Harm[edit | edit source]

Crisis Text Line

Resources from the National Alliance on Mental Illness[edit | edit source]

Suicidality[edit | edit source]

Educating Parents[edit | edit source]

Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM)[10][edit | edit source]

  • Reduce access to lethal means (firearms, medication, sharp objects, lighters, etc) to prevent suicidal behavior
  • 48% of those who attempted suicide reported having first started thinking about making that attempt within 10 minutes before the attempt.
  • 83-90% of firearm suicide attempts are lethal
  • Firearms represent 51% of the fatal suicide attempts in the US
Lethal Means Counseling[edit | edit source]
  • assess suicide risk
  • explain risk to patient and parent/support person
  • collaborate on a plan to reduce access to lethal means
  • agree on roles and timetable and document the plan
  • follow up within 24 hours and at next appointment
Safety Plan[edit | edit source]
  • identify warning signs
  • coping strategies to distract from negative thoughts
  • people one can reach out to for help
  • professionals / agencies one can contact in a crisis
  • how to make the environment safe/limit access to lethal means

Counseling Services In and Outside of School[edit | edit source]

  • contact your school counselor and/or school social worker for psychological services
  • speak with your teachers about mental health resources within the school
  • speak with your parents about seeking community-based mental health services (individual and/or group therapy)

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) 2017 Findings on High School Students' Suicidal Behavior[2][edit | edit source]

  • 17.2% of students nationwide had seriously considered attempting suicide in last 12 months
  • Prevalence of having seriously considered attempting suicide was higher among females (22.1%) than males (11.9%)
  • 13.6% of students nationwide had made a suicide plan in last 12 months
  • 7.4% of students nationwide had attempted suicide at least once in last 12 months

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "6 Ways to Be an Ally (en Español)". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "YRBSS | Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System | Data | Adolescent and School Health | CDC". 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  3. "How Does Drug Use Affect Your High School Grades? | Just Think Twice". Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  4. "How to Help Teens Deal With the Pressure of Playing High School Sports". Verywell Family. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  5. "Suicide: What to do when someone is suicidal". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  6. "5 Warning Signs of Suicidal Behavior That Are Easy to Miss". Bridges to Recovery. 2019-09-10. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  7. "Early Intervention | Mental Health Education Resource Center (MHERC)". Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  8. "Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  9. "Self-Esteem Self-Help Resources - Information Sheets & Workbooks". Retrieved 2021-04-15.
  10. Boston, 677 Huntington Avenue; Ma 02115 +1495‑1000 (2012-09-11). "Means Matter Basics". Means Matter. Retrieved 2021-04-08.