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Prevention in schools involves education. It is extremely important all staff, including teachers, aides, custodians and lunch workers be trained in what to look for and how to help students. Source

Education for students may occur in a health class, by a school nurse, school psychologist, counselor or social worker.

All education and training should address the factors that contribute to suicidal thought in students. These factors include depression, family stress, loss, and drug abuse. Source

Peer mediation and peer counseling programs, which train students about suicide prevention has been found to be one of the most successful programs in a school setting. Source

Creating a safe and non-threatening environment for all students is one of the important stages to begin with. Source

PTA meetings, community council, and other types of meetings in a school setting may present an opportunity to educate parents and the community about depression and suicidal behavior. Source

Outside mental health professionals should be given the opportunity to discuss their programs with students to increase awareness of services (see mental health tab) Source

Observable Signs of Serious Depression

Most depressed people are not suicidal - most suicidal people are depressed.

  • Suicidal talk – talks about wanting to die or being a burden
  • Preoccupation with death or dying
  • Signs of depression - loss of interest in usual activities
  • Behavior changes – extreme mood swings
  • Difficulty with appetite and sleeping too little or too much
  • Taking excessive risks
  • Increased drug use
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Withdrawn – isolated

Coping Skills and Personal Traits

  • Decision making, anger management, conflict resolution, problem solving and other coping skills
  • A sense of personal control over actions
  • A healthy fear of risky behavior and pain
  • Hope for the future


  • Religious/spiritual beliefs about the meaning and value of life
  • Positive relationships with family, friends, school, or other caring adults
  • Responsibilities at home or in the community

Health and Home

  • A safe and stable environment
  • Not using drugs and alcohol
  • Access to health care
  • Taking care of self

Include the following:

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Close family member who died by suicide
  • Past psychiatric hospitalization
  • Recent losses: This may include the death of a relative, a family divorce, breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, or the loss of family pet
  • Social isolation: The individual may lack social skills, including the ability to find alternatives to suicide
  • Drug or alcohol abuse: Drugs decrease impulse control making impulsive suicide more likely. Some individuals try to self-medicate depression with drugs or alcohol
  • Exposure to violence in the home or the social environment: The individual sees violent behavior as a viable solution to life problems
  • Firearms in the home, especially if they are stored loaded


Kids who are bullied

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender

Effective prevention efforts include the following characteristics:

  • Teachers and community leaders are aware of issues for LGBT people such as victimization, difficulties accessing services, and ineffective providers. They also demonstrate awareness of discrimination against transgender people
  • Leaders model appreciation for all youth, condemn any discrimination, and assume an advocacy role for all youth
  • Leaders assess and respect youth's decision about disclosing to others
  • Promote protective factors such as family support and acceptance, safe schools, caring adults, high self-esteem amongst youth, and positive role models for youth
  • School-family-community partnerships that help promote a safer school environment
  • Viewing LGBT students as a part of, and not separate from, other persons and groups
  • School-climate policies that restrict expressive behavior that might lead to offensive material or interference with the rights of others
  • School communities allowing members to openly discuss the topic in a courteous, respectful, and professional manner
  • The school plays an important role in providing a safe environment for all students. A safe and non-threatening environment would include zero tolerance of bullying and condemn any and all discrimination.

Those who have attempted suicide before

Those with family members that have died by suicide

Those struggling with addiction

Those who own firearms

Suicide is not inexplicable and is not simply the result of stress or difficult life circumstances. The key suicide risk factor is an undiagnosed, untreated, or ineffectively treated mental disorder. Research shows that over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their death.

In teens, the mental disorders most closely linked to suicide risk are major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, substance use disorder, and eating disorders. While in some cases these disorders may be precipitated by environmental stressors, they can also occur as a result of changes in brain chemistry, even in the absence of an identifiable or obvious “reason.”

Suicide is almost always complicated. In addition to the underlying disorders listed above, suicide risk can be affected by personality factors such as impulsivity, aggression, and hopelessness. Moreover, suicide risk can also be exacerbated by stressful life circumstances such as a history of childhood physical and/or sexual abuse; death, divorce, or other trauma in the family; persistent serious family conflict; traumatic breakups of romantic relationships; trouble with the law; school failures and other major disappointments; and bullying, harassment, or victimization by peers.

It is important to remember that the vast majority of teens who experience even very stressful life events do not become suicidal. In some cases, such experiences can be a catalyst for suicidal behavior in teens who are already struggling with depression or other mental health problems. In others, traumatic experiences (such as prolonged bullying) can precipitate depression, anxiety, abuse of alcohol or drugs, or another mental disorder, which can increase suicide risk.

Conversely, existing mental disorders may also lead to stressful life experiences such as family conflict, social isolation, relationship breakups, or school failures, which may exacerbate the underlying illness and in turn increase suicide risk.


People who talk about suicide will not make an attempt.

Mention of the word "suicide" will give the person ideas.

All persons who attempt suicide want to die.

Only certain types of people die by suicide.

A person who attempts suicide will not try again.

Suicide is an act of impulse with no previous planning.

Most suicide attempts occur at the holidays.


80% of those who die by suicide give warning signs before.

Discussing suicidal feelings helps to relieve anxiety.

Most suicidal persons want to be relieved of pain.

Suicide affects all races, colors, and socio-economic groups.

Most people who die by suicide have made previous attempts.

Most suicides are carefully planned and thought about for weeks.

Suicide attempts increase during springtime.

Video: KSL - Breaking the Silence on Suicide