Suicide is the second leading cause of death among ages 10-24 (CDC); second only to unintentional injuries. Children ages 10-14 are our 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. While this seems inconceivable, it is an unfortunate reality.
Recently, the St. Marys Area School District hosted a joint in-service with Johnsonburg Area School District. Don Hockman, who lost his son to suicide just over a year ago, very courageously shared his experience. At the Ridgway Area School District, alongside her mother (Jen), Brittany Standeven, who lost both her father and her sister to suicide, courageously shared her experience regarding this silent epidemic. Dickinson Center, Inc. (DCI) in conjunction with Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (ADAS) provided education to the area school districts' faculty regarding depression awareness and suicide prevention. Both the Signs Of Suicide® (SOS) Prevention Program and the state-wide Student Assistance Program (SAP) were outlined. Staff were educated on what to look for and when to report. Together DCI and ADAS explained that often mental health and drug and alcohol use and abuse go hand in hand. The agencies stressed early identification as key in prevention. The sooner that changes in behavior or concerns regarding a history of trauma are addressed, the better the chances of avoiding exacerbated concerns later in life, such as major depressive disorder and addiction.
If you or someone you know:
- Threatens suicide
- Talks about wanting to die
- Shows changes in behavior, appearance, or mood
- Abuses drugs or alcohol
- Is withdrawing from family and friends
- Deliberately injures themselves
- Is experiencing changes in sleep patterns, and/or with weight/appetite
- Appears depressed, sad, or withdrawn
- Has lost interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Is highly anxious, irritable, and/or agitated
- Has a history of trauma (ex. Childhood abuse or neglect; war and other forms of violence; grief and loss; physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; accidents and natural disasters; and medical interventions)
You can help:
- Stay calm and listen
- Let them talk about their feelings
- Be accepting; don’t judge
- Ask if they have suicidal thoughts
- Take threats seriously
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy
- ACT! (Acknowledge the problem, respond with Care, Tell a trusted adult)
To learn more about suicide prevention or other programs and services that Dickinson’s Children’s Prevention Services offers, contact Tana Funair at 834-2602.