Today I decided to write my blog on a subject that is very sensitive but one I feel needs to be talked about. The subject is suicide. I touched on this subject last February and you are welcome to go back and read that one also. However, within the last few weeks, there have been at least three suicides that I know of in the Lima and Van Wert area. These suicides involved students who just graduated last year. One of our own home schools, Delphos Jefferson, is dealing with that tragedy today. I had a girl here at Vantage ask me, "What is it going to take for something to change?". She really would just love to tell teenagers everywhere to stop being so judgmental. To just try to get along and love each other. She said we should be there to pick each other up instead of pushing each other down. Pretty simple words spoken so eloquently by a student who is hurting, a student who cares and a student who is tired of seeing lost lives.
For the last several years I have put on a suicide prevention presentation that is taken from Darcy and Paul Granello and the QPR Institute. Paul & Darcy are both doctors in the mental health field at Ohio State University. The reason this presentation is so important is because based on 2016 data, there are about 117 suicides per day; 1 every 12.3 minutes. Suicide is the 3rd ranking cause of death for teenagers. There are so many teens today who are crying out for help but yet they get ignored. Research shows that the most likely response to suicidal communication from family, colleagues, and friends is...SILENCE. Prior to making a suicide attempt 90% of people demonstrate clear warning signs and 70% tell another person. It is also known that over 60% of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75%. Depression affects nearly 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year, or more than 24 million people. We must recognize the warning signs of depression so we can get help or get help for someone we know. The symptoms of Depression are:
- Depressed mood
- Change in sleeping and eating patterns
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or wishing to be dead
A lot of you may be thinking that you know someone who needs help but you are afraid to approach them or you may be afraid of what to say. The main thing that I hope you take from this blog today is that if you are concerned about a friend then you must communicate with them. Tell them you are worried about them and then ask "the question". That question is "Are you thinking about suicide" or "Are you thinking about killing yourself". Research shows that mentioning suicide to a student doesn't lead to suicide. Since almost everything you do to convince the student to live instead of killing themselves will be met with relief, don't hesitate to get involved or take the lead. You are not a counselor, so don't worry about what to say or do. Immediately take them to get help. You can lead that student to a friend, to an older adult, teacher, staff member or myself. I am always available and will help immediately if you come to me.
The main thing you want to do is provide HOPE. Most people who have survived a suicide attempt stated that they did not want to die, they just wanted the pain to end. They didn't know what else to do or who to turn to. They had no hope. Be that hope for them and reach out.
I have included the presentation that I use. You can access it by clicking here.