• Brief Facts and Tips: Suicide Prevention

    Youth suicide is a serious problem. 
    Suicide is the second leading cause of death among school age youth. In 2013, 17% of our nation's high school students seriously considered suicide and 8% made an attempt.

    Suicide is preventable. 
    Youth who are contemplating suicide typically give warning signs of their distress. Most important is to never take these warning signs lightly or promise to keep them secret.

    Suicide Risk Factors. 
    Certain characteristics are associated with increased suicide risk include:

       · Previous suicide attempt(s)
       · Isolation and aloneness
       · Non-suicidal self-injury (e.g., cutting)
       · Mental illness including depression, conduct disorders, and substance abuse
       · Family stress/dysfunction
       · Family history of suicide
       · Environmental risks, including presence of a firearm in the home
       · Situational crises (e.g., the presence of a gun in the home, bullying and harassment, serious disciplinary 
         action, death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, breakup of a relationship/friendship, family 
         violence, suicide of a peer)

    Suicide Warning Signs.
    Most suicidal youth demonstrate observable behaviors signaling suicidal thinking:

       · Suicidal threats in the form of direct (e.g., "I am going to kill myself") and indirect (e.g., "I wish I could 
         fall asleep and never wake up again") statements
       · Suicide notes and plans (including online postings)
       · Making final arrangements (e.g., giving away prized possessions)
       · Preoccupation with death 
       · Changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts, and/or feelings.

    There are protective factors that can lessen the effects of risk factors. 
    These can include family and peer support, school and community connectedness, healthy problem-solving skills, and easy access to effective medical and mental health services.

    Schools have an important role in preventing youth suicide. 
    At every Pittsburgh Public Schools, there are trained mental health staff with clear procedures for identifying and intervening with students at school. 

    The entire school staff should work to create an environment where students feel safe. 
    School mental health and crisis team members are responsible for conducting suicide risk assessment, warn/inform parents, provide recommendations and referrals to community services, and often provide follow up counseling and support at school.

    Collaboration between schools and community providers is critical. 
    Pittsburgh Public Schools has established with local community mental health agencies that helps to connect students to needed services in a timely manner and supports a smooth re-entry to school.

    Never ignore or keep information a secret. 
    Peers should not agree to keep the suicidal thoughts of a friend a secret and instead should tell an adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school psychologist. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to the designated school mental health professional or administrator.

    Get immediate help if a suicide threat seems serious. 
    Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)