- Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34, the National Institute of Mental Health says, and rates of suicide have increased significantly, reports Education Commission of the States, a nonprofit that researches education policy issues.
- Schools are prime spots for early intervention and prevention. Among increasingly common efforts are mandated suicide prevention training for school personnel, suicide prevention curricula and postvention policies.
- So far in 2018, at least 10 bills in eight states have been enacted around suicide prevention in schools. These include Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Utah and New Mexico, which has requested a study specifically on preventing suicide with firearms at schools.
While the increase in teen suicide, is, of course, a crisis in itself, the issue has been getting more attention as of late amid recent school shootings and the resultant call for more mental health resources for students. The recent suicides of several celebrities, and the popularity among teens of Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” which some critics say glamorizes suicide, has increased the pressure on schools to implement prevention efforts. Training “gatekeepers” who learn to identify students in distress and formalized peer intervention are two approaches schools are taking.
Mountain states in the U.S. have the highest suicide rates. Colorado recently received funding for suicide prevention programs after pushing for a provision that allowed 12-year-olds to receive counseling without a parent's consent.
Administrators and school leaders should keep an eye on privacy issues that may apply when approaching mental health interventions. But until this disturbing trend begins to reverse, the most important thing administrators can do is to stay attuned to the kids in their own school communities in hopes of preventing these tragedies. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has user-friendly resources on identifying warning signs and being prepared for a crisis. If a student appears to be in immediate danger, the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) can help.