The following information is provided by Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for adolescents in Wisconsin. Suicide is a complicated human behavior. Research has shown:
- There is no typical suicide victim.
- There are no absolute reasons for suicide.
- Suicide is always multi-dimensional.
- Preventing suicide must involve many approaches and requires teamwork.
What are the risk factors for suicide — things that are associated with suicide attempts?
- Previous suicide attempts are the strongest predictor of future attempts.
- Exposure to suicide of another student, of a loved one, or through the media.
- A history of depression or other mental disorders, including drug or alcohol abuse.
- Unsupervised access to firearms, especially during depression or times of perceived crisis.
- Poor problem-solving skills, risky or impulsive actions, conflicts, stressful life events.
What are the warning signs?
Early warning signs are behaviors that adults may notice in many youth. For some youth, these are the first signs they are struggling with depression or low mood. Be watchful of these youth to see if the symptoms persist for more than a few weeks or a month.
- Difficulty concentrating or a decline in quality of school work.
- Social withdrawal, personality and mood changes.
- In younger children, physical complaints related to emotions (stomachaches, headaches).
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits — too much or too little of either or both.
- Preoccupation with death.
Urgent warning signs indicate that a young person may have made a decision to harm him or herself.
- Threats or hints about suicide, seriously thinking about it, especially a specific plan.
- Impulsive or violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away.
- Refusing help or feeling beyond help, claiming to be a bad person, intolerant of praise.
- Hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness.
- Being suddenly cheerful after a period of depression (problems no longer worry them).
- Giving away favorite possessions, making a last will and testament, “typing up loose ends.”
What can you do if you become concerned about a young person?
Show care and concern.
Be direct – ask the question, “Are you thinking about suicide?”
Get help – don’t leave him or her alone.
Caring for yourself during stressful situations:
- Take care of yourself.
- Seek support from friends, family, teachers, or other trusted adults.
- Remember it takes a team of people to help a suicidal individual – you shouldn’t be the only source of support.
- Recognize that you are not responsible for another person’s actions.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Eat healthy.
- Get exercise.
- Get some fresh air.
School staff or other trusted adults
National Suicide Prevention Crisis Line: 1.800.273.8255
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: www.sprc.org
Mental Health America of Wisconsin: www.mhawisconsin.org