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  • Writer's picturedrjennifer_tauks

September is National Suicide Prevention Month

Each person can take part in suicide prevention.

September is typically the month of the start of school. Faculty, staff, professors, mental health providers, and parents, it is imperative to know how to support someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Research highlights that school connectedness provided critical protection for students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, "youth who felt connected to adults and peers at school were significantly less likely than those who did not to report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness (35% vs. 53%); that they seriously considered attempting suicide (14% vs. 26%); or attempted suicide (6% vs. 12%). However, fewer than half (47%) of youth reported feeling close to people at school during the pandemic." (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0331-youth-mental-health-covid-19.html)

Learning how you can provide a safe and supportive environment is a protective factor in suicide prevention.

Here are FOUR steps in supporting someone struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors:

  • #1 Show Up

  • #2 Listen Without Judgment

  • #3 Validate Feelings

  • #4 Assist in Seeking Help Step 1: Show up Showing up means to you are empathetic to what the person is telling you. It is important to make yourself available to listen to what the person is saying. An example may be a student asking to speak with you at a certain time during the school day. Providing an empathetic ear is a simple action that is proven to help the person feel less isolated.


Step 2: Listen Without Judgment


When someone is experiencing intense emotional feelings, they may feel like others don't care. Listening without judgment means you offer supportive phrases like, "This must be really hard for you" or " I am sorry you are going through this. You are not alone."

Remember, whether you think the person is suicidal or not is not the focus. The focus is to listen and maintain a connection with the person have the feelings.


Step 3: Validate Feelings

Validation is a way to support the understanding and acceptance of the person's feelings. You can provide this through verbal and non-verbal communication.

Just sitting and listening is a great way to provide non-verbal support. Maintaining eye contact and nodding are great examples to let the person know you are interested in their feelings. Reflecting back on their words or phrases about their experiences is a great verbal way to maintain the connection.

Step 4: Assist in Seeking Help

If you are not a trained mental health provider, it is crucial that you are aware of how to seek help, where to seek help, and who to go to for help. Seek out your school social workers, school psychologists, guidance counselors, and administrative teams to discuss the conversational provide follow-up services.

Here is a list of resources to help:

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