1 in 6 students (grades 6 -12) have thoughts of suicide.
1 in 8 students have a plan.
1 in 10 have attempted suicide.
Mental and emotional health problems often unfold in the classroom, affecting concentration and potentially straining relationships with teachers and peers. It’s important to know the signs.
- Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
- Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason
- Acting up in class
- Aggression or agitation
- Poor academic performance
- Change in friend group
- Drastic changes in the student’s behavior or personality
- Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Use of drugs or alcohol
Suicide Risk Factors
- Previous suicide attempt
- Someone close to the person has died by suicide
- Loss of significant relationship
- Being expelled from school
- Recent disappointment or rejection
- Victim of assault or bullying
- Questioning gender
Professionals who can Help
- School Counselor
- School Psychiatrist or Psychologist
- School Nurse
Talking about suicide will not give someone thoughts they did not already have. Rather, it will demonstrate that you are there for them and are open for any and all conversations.
Helping Your Students Shine
- Be Open. Teachers are a source of comfort for many students and may be the adult they feel most connected with. Make yourself available to have important conversations with students and let them know you are a safe adult to talk with should they experience a mental health concern or crisis.
- Educate yourself about resources. There are many trained professionals that can assist students through a mental health concern or crisis. Be familiar with your school’s protocols and the resources that are available within a school. These may include school nurse, school counselor, school psychiatrist or psychologist, social workers, Student Assistance Program (SAP), etc. Also know what resources are available in your community including crisis lines and other community supports.
- Reduce classroom stress. Avoid rigid deadlines. Consider practicing a one minute meditation prior to a test or at the start of each lesson.
- Promote social and emotional competency and build resilience. Teaching these life-long skills can help students overcome adversity and hardships.
- Reinforce positive behaviors and decision making. Children and teens who are struggling with emotional or behavior problems may find school extra hard and often deal with low self-esteem. Be genuine and generous in your praise.
- Consider adding mental health resources to syllabus or have them posted in the classroom.
- Build your confidence. Engage in professional development programs around mental health and wellness topics.