What Role might a Teacher play in Suicide Prevention?

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Teachers need to pay careful attention to the students' in suicide prevention.Students with mental health disorders can be prone to suicidal tendencies. Some of the red flags that should put a teacher on alert include:

  • Threatening suicide.
  • Looking for access to means.
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, suicide.
  • Made a previous attempt that was serious enough to require hospitalization.

If you have a student in your classroom who fits into any of the above categories, you need to watch out for them. Ensure that the parents and the health care team are aware of this and have given consent to send the student to school.

Some particular precautions that a teacher may need to ensure are:

  • Student supervision by an adult at all times. The child may need someone to walk them to the restroom and also keep a eye on them during recess.
  • Drop off and pick up from school by a designated caregiver.
  • No access to potentially harmful substances or instruments including cleaning solutions, sharp scissors or knives, gardening or carpentry tools. In case the child needs to use these substances, they should be closely supervised.

Some of the other things a teacher may do in suicide prevention are:

  • Provide activities that are pleasurable and enjoyable and encourage the student’s participation
  • Help the child achieve success in tasks and activities.
  • Be encouraging and supportive.
  • Encourage the student to have “ownership” of something – like taking care of a plant, a classroom pet, or participating in a fundraising campaign.
  • Engage the student in long term classroom projects so that they will always have something to look forward to the next day.
  • Provide situations where the student can build relationships with other classmates.

Learn More… Take this course: Recognizing Early-Onset Mental Health Disorders in Children

Discuss Here: What are other suggestions for classroom teachers regarding suicide prevention?

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