Light for Life Foundation – Please call the San Diego 24 hour Crisis Hotline at 1(888) 724-7240, or the National Hotline at 1(800) 273-8255 – If you are in need and don’t know how to ask for help please call these hotlines. Life is precious – we care.
Are you, or do you know someone who is feeling depressed, with thoughts of taking their own life?
Please read on for help:
*If you are in need and don’t know how to ask for help please call these hotlines. Life is very precious -I care and they care – make the call for help. Sometimes life seems over-whelming-please make the call…
San Diego Teen Zeen (Comprehensive Local Youth Support)
Jenna Druck Foundation
(Surviving the Loss of a Child, Celebrating the Future)
(Our Children Loved, Missed, and Remembered)
So that you’re aware of this important issue – please read the following and – Take Action!
How You Can Help a Suicidal Teenager or adult!
- DEAL WITH YOUR OWN FEELINGS FIRST. The idea of young people wanting to kill themselves is difficult for adults to grasp. The first reaction is often shock or denial. TRUST YOUR FEELINGS WHEN YOU THINK SOMEONE MAY BE SUICIDAL. A second reaction might be efforts to argue, minimize, to discount the young person’s feelings of despair. Remember that most young people who contemplate or attempt suicide are not intent on dying. Rather, at the moment, the pain of living is more unbearable than the fear of dying.
- LISTEN DON’T LECTURE. What the young person really needs in this crisis period is someone who will listen to what is being said. Try to understand from the teenager’s viewpoint.
- ACCEPT WHAT IS SAID AND TREAT IT SERIOUSLY. Do not judge. Do not offer platitudes.
- ASK DIRECTLY IF THE INDIVIDUAL IS THINKING OF SUICIDE. If the teenager has not been thinking of suicide, he or she will tell you. If the young person has been thinking of it, your asking allows the opportunity to bring it out in the open. Isolation and the feeling that there is no one to talk to compounds suicidal ideation. YOU WILL NOT CAUSE SOMEONE TO COMMIT SUICIDE BY ASKING THEM IF THEY ARE SUICIDAL.
- TALK OPENLY AND FREELY AND TRY TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE PERSON HAS A PLAN FOR SUICIDE. The more detailed the plan, the greater the risk.
- TRY TO FOCUS THE PROBLEM. Point out that depression causes people to see only the negatives in their lives and to be temporarily unable to see the positives. Elicit from the person’s past and present positive aspects which are being ignored.
- HELP THE YOUNG PERSON TO INCREASE HIS/HER PERCEPTION OF ALTERNATIVES TO SUICIDE. Look at what the young person hopes to accomplish by suicide and generate alternative ways to reaching the same goals. Help determine what needs to be done or changed.
- HELP THE PERSON RECALL HOW THEY USED TO COPE. Get the person to talk about a past problem and how it was resolved. What coping skills did he or she use?
- EVALUATE THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE AND HELP IDENTIFY THE RESOURCES NEEDED TO IMPROVE THINGS. The individual may have both inner psychological resources and outer resources in the community which can be strengthened. If they are absent the problem is much more serious. Your continuing observation and support are vital.
- DO NOT BE MISLED BY THE TEENAGER’S COMMENTS THAT HE/SHE IS PAST THE EMOTIONAL CRISIS. The person might feel initial relief after talking of suicide, but the same thinking could recur later.
- ACT RESPECTFULLY. Do arrange with the person to be back in contact within a few hours. Offer yourself as a caring and concerned listener until professional assistance has been obtained.
- DO NOT AVOID ASKING FOR ASSISTANCE AND CONSULTATION. Call upon whomever is needed, depending upon the severity of the case.
- DO NOT TRY TO HANDLE EVERYTHING ALONE. Go to the child’s guidance counselor, principal, parents, minister, etc. Seek out referrals from hotlines, etc. Convey an attitude of firmness and composure so that the person will feel that something appropriate and realistic is being done.
Identifying Youth at Risk for Suicide
The “equation” for more successfully identifying youth at suicidal risk is to recognize items from both sides of this list. Warning signs alone are not enough to give adequate indicators. Including the risk factors give a more complete profile. Remember, however, ALL YOUTH ARE AT RISK. One is five has suicidal thoughts and one in ten will make an attempt.
Warning Signs Risk Factors
- Abrupt changes in personality
- Giving away possessions
- Previous suicide attempts
- Ending of a romance
- Inability to tolerate frustration
- Use of drugs and/or alcohol
- Depression. Lack of self esteem
- Change in eating patterns (significant weight changes)
- Unwillingness or inability to communicate
- Sexual promiscuity
- Extreme or extended boredom
- Inability to concentrate
- Accident prone (carelessness)
- Unusually long grief reaction
- Unusual sadness, discouragement and loneliness
- Hostile or reckless behavior
- Neglect of personal appearance
- Major loss (of loved one, home, loss through divorce, trauma, relationship)
- Running away from home, or truancy from school.
- Withdrawal (from people, especially close friends, family and or favorite activities)
- Anxiety — stress
- Problems with school or the law
- Unexpected pregnancy
- A stressful family life
- Parents who are substance abusers or depressed
- Family history of suicide
- Loss of self-esteem (humiliation)
- Tendency toward impulsiveness/anger
- Stress due to new situations: beginning new school, college or relocating to a new community
- Loss of security. Fear of higher ups, group or gang
- A serious illness or injury
- Failing in school or failing to pass an important test
- Remorse causing another person’s pain: a broken romance, an accident that injured another person
- Recognizing Possible Suicidal Behavior in the Classroom
The signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal behavior in adolescents are often observable behaviors first noticed by school personnel. The following lists common changes in classroom behavior which may reflect serious depression and/or suicidal behavior.
- ABRUPT CHANGES IN ATTENDANCE
- Remain alert to excessive absenteeism in a student with a good attendance record, particularly when the change is sudden.
- DWINDLING ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
- Question any unexpected and sudden decreases in school performance, inability to concentrate is frequently found in depressed adolescents, leading to poor school performance.
- SUDDEN FAILURE TO COMPLETE ASSIGNMENTS
- This may be due to a variety of factors. However, this is often seen in depressed and suicidal youngsters.
- LACK OF INTEREST IN ACTIVITIES AND SURROUNDINGS
- It is difficult to maintain surveillance over so many adolescents. However, one of the first signs of a potentially suicidal adolescent is general withdrawal, disengagement and apathy.
- CHANGED RELATIONSHIPS WITH FRIENDS AND CLASSMATES
- Additional evidence of personal despair may be abrupt changes in friendships and social relationships.
- INCREASED IRRITABILITY, MOODINESS OR AGGRESSIVENESS
- Depressed, stressed and potentially suicidal individuals demonstrate wide mood swings and unexpected displays of emotion. Try to stay alert to times when a student’s reactions seem excessive.
- WITHDRAWAL AND DISPLAYS OF SADNESS
- Teachers sometimes give up on a chronic, nonparticipating students who do not cause problems in the classroom. Be sure that these students are, in fact, nonparticipants and not potentially suicidal.
- DEATH AND SUICIDAL THEMES EVIDENT IN READING SELECTIONS, WRITTEN ESSAYS
- The selection of materials centering on ideas about death or dying, the uselessness or worthlessness of life, or matters relating to persons who have committed suicide should be viewed as warning signs for teachers – particularly if this occurs on more than one occasion.
- Recognizing Possible Suicidal Behavior Out of the Classroom
- These signs are likely to be observed in a student’s general behavior and do not necessarily mean that someone is considering suicide. They are warning signs and should generate attention.
- NEGLECT/APATHY ABOUT PERSONAL HYGIENE AND APPEARANCE
- UNUSUAL CHANGES IN EATING OR SLEEPING PATTERNS
- There may be a noticeable decrease or increase in appetite with significant weight change, insomnia or a desire to sleep all of the time.
- OVERT SADNESS AND DEPRESSION
- The young person may often appear sad and depressed and show signs of tension and extreme anxiety.
- ACTING OUT BEHAVIOR
- Behavior may include substance abuse, refusal to go to school, sexual promiscuity, running away, fighting, recklessness, purposely hurting one’s body, delinquency, preoccupation with revenge.
- MARKED EMOTIONAL INSTABILITY
- Distraught students are likely to have wide and unpredictable mood swings. Particular attention should be given to a sudden change in mood from depression to cheerfulness, as if the answer to the problem is now clear.
- REMARKS INDICATING PROFOUND UNHAPPINESS OR DESPAIR
- Statements might include references to feeling constantly hassled, under stress or unable to concentrate or rest properly.
- LOSS OF INTEREST IN EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
- PRIZED POSSESSION BEING GIVEN AWAY
- Students who do not care about the future or have decided that they will not be around are likely to give away possession that they value.
- DIRECT SUICIDE THREATS OR ATTEMPTS
- All suicide threats and attempts should be taken seriously. At added risk are students who have threatened or attempted suicide before. In the latter case, the usual inhibitions against hurting themselves have been removed.
- ESPECIALLY IF THERE HAS BEEN:
- A RECENT LOSS IN CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS
- Losses of significant others are misfortunes that adults learn to handle. For developing adolescents, these events can be devastating and can overtax their current coping skills. Examples are death or divorce of parents, losing a close friend, breaking up with a steady, being cut from an athletic team.
- HEAVY USE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS
- Students who are substance abusers tend to be at higher risk for suicide. Heavy drug and alcohol users are likely to be depressed youngsters who are seeking relief. Eventually these substances stop working and, in fact, contribute to a greater depression. These substances also contribute to impulsive behavior which often leads to accidents and suicide.
- A RECENT SUICIDE IN THE FAMILY OR OF A FRIEND
- A recent suicide in the family significantly increases the suicide risk of survivors for the following reasons: a) a pervading sense that they, too, are doomed to commit suicide; b) an unbearable grief, depression and/or guilt over the loss of a loved one; c) a fear of mental illness; and d) a realization that suicide presents an optional way out of an unwelcome and painfully unhappy life.
Do one thing…and then do another!
Want to help?
Many people want to help do something about suicide prevention, but may not know what to do. We have made it easy. Do anything on this “DO ONE THING” list and you will have made a difference for someone. Do them all, and maybe you can save a life.
- Talk to a young person about suicide. Ask them if they have ever had suicidal thoughts.
- Tell someone else about the Yellow Ribbon Program and ask them to tell someone.
- Join our organization. A small amount of money can save a young life.
- Write a letter to a Middle School, High School or College asking them to distribute Yellow Ribbon Information to students.
- Contact a youth director at a church or synagogue and ask them to use the Yellow Ribbon Program.
- Call a school principal and ask if they have a Yellow Ribbon Program.
- Show the video “No More Tomorrows” to someone.
- Give the video “No More Tomorrows” to a school, a church/synagogue or youth group.
- Wear a Yellow Ribbon pin and explain what it is to everyone who asks.
- Participate in Yellow Ribbon Week – check their website
- Contact a member of the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate and ask them to sponsor National Yellow Ribbon Week
- Contact your city or state government officials and ask when funding will be given for suicide prevention programs and tell them about the Yellow Ribbon Program.
- Tell a survivor of suicide that you care. (Survivors are people who have lost someone to suicide or people who survive an attempt.)
- Do something – now! Thank you for caring….