On Tuesday, we were fortunate enough to have the Yellow Ribbon Program come to our charter school, and help our students in grades 6-12 talk about suicide awareness and prevention. These people dedicate their lives to helping people understand suicide through a personal perspective, as most of them have lost someone to suicide personally.
For me, it is these personal stories that make such a difference in our children's lives! We know that teens and preteens don't fully understand the permanence of suicide as an option, but they, like many adults, don't know how to talk about it. I shared with them afterward that this is an issue that unfortunately, I see more and more of every year; students coming to me, or another staff member, to either talk about their feelings, or because they know someone else who has been bringing up suicide. And it seems the first few sentences always uncovers the same first thought: "I don't know what to do about this".
As a teacher and principal, I have talked to many students about this topic and many others, that plague our children's lives, and even though I don't always feel confident in what to say to them, I try, and I get help when I need it. When I'm talking with a student, it's personal, and I talk to them as a person who is truly and genuinely concerned for their well being. I figure if I approach it in that way, I can't screw it up. When I talk to parents about their children, many will tell me that they've known or suspected that their child was depressed, or that something was bothering them, but they didn't know how to approach it. The Yellow Ribbon Program gave us all some concrete things to do if we find ourselves in this kind of a situation, and I'm wanting to pass them along to all of you.
First, if someone (child or adult) needs to talk about feelings of sadness or depression that they've been having, or even feelings that they don't understand, stop everything and listen. This can be hard to do in our busy schedules, but it is necessary.
If you suspect that something is wrong with someone, and they aren't ready to talk, keep asking if they're okay. Ask them if they have someone else to talk to, or let them know they can call or text you at any time, night or day. Don't blow off your gut feelings.
If someone texts you or calls you, and suggests they are thinking of hurting themselves, ask them if they have contemplated suicide--don't be afraid to say the words! Ask them if they have a plan. Then, get help, and keep them talking.
Keep them on the line, and tell someone else without them knowing. Have that someone else contact a person in their home, or drive over there to check on them, but keep them talking or texting.
The Suicide Hotline is available 24/7: 1-800-273-TALK. Also, you can text 741741, and receive help at any time as well.
Suicide is scary, and what's scarier to me is how often it comes up anymore. Our young people, and people in general are too important to let this continue. We have to talk about it, educate each other, and do our best to be there for each other. By bringing the Yellow Ribbon Program in to start the conversation, we're hoping that we, and our students, can be better prepared to handle this topic.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions!
Administrator Concord Academy