Suicide Prevention/Acts of Kindness

The Link Between Prevention and Outcome.

Suicide Prevention

There is no doubt that suicide is a difficult and uncomfortable topic to discuss, but the more awareness we bring to this subject, the more can be done to support children, teens, and adults who may be having difficulty.

Myths Regarding Suicide

Talking about suicide is a bad idea because it may give someone the idea to try it.

Suicide can be an uncomfortable topic. Often, people who are feeling suicidal don’t want to worry or burden anyone with how they feel, so they don’t discuss it. It is a common misconception that talking about suicide will cause a person to think about it or act on it.

By asking someone directly about suicide, you give them permission to tell you how they feel. People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about what they were experiencing. Once someone starts talking they’ve got a better chance of discovering other options to dealing and coping with stress other than suicide.

People take their own life "out of the blue".

There are almost always warning signs, including telling others they want their lives to end, giving away possessions, behaving more aggressively or recklessly, experiencing dramatic mood swings, abusing substances, and withdrawing socially. Witnessing such behavior can be distressing, but it also presents you with a chance to intervene and get critical help before it's too late.

Someone who "has their act together" isn't at risk of suicide.

On the outside, someone can appear to have it all: friends, a healthy family, an active social life, financial stability. "We look at the outside veneer and say, 'They're doing great. Life is wonderful. How could they even contemplate suicide?' While the deaths of Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Anthony Bourdain, and Kate Spade are high-profile examples of prominent people dying by suicide, seemingly happy people in your own life might be at risk, too. The takeaway? When you see someone exhibit warning signs for suicide, don't brush it off. Reach out to them instead. Have an honest conversation.
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How do you have these conversations with younger children?

Conversations regarding this topic with younger children can simply involve discussions around managing stress and dealing with difficult emotions. Helping your child develop positive coping strategies and problem-solving skills when it comes to handling their emotions and difficult situations can influence how they deal with them in the future. Positive social connections are also crucial because as children get older their peers become more significant and influential in their lives and it is important that they feel connected to peers whether it be at school, sports, hobbies, clubs, or any other recreational/extracurricular activities.

Teen Suicide: Learning to Recognize the Warning Signs

The reasons

No two teenagers are alike, but there are some common reasons they consider suicide.

Many teens who attempt suicide do so during an acute crisis in reaction to some conflict with peers or parents.

How to help

If you notice any of the above warning signs in your child, you should take these steps:

  • Offer help and listen. Don't ignore the problem. What you've noticed may be the teen's way of crying out for help. Offer support, understanding and compassion. Talk about feelings and the behaviors you have seen that cause you to feel concerned. You don't need to solve the problem or give advice. Sometimes just caring and listening, and being nonjudgmental, gives all the understanding necessary.

  • Take talk of suicide seriously, and use the word “suicide.” Talking about suicide doesn't cause suicide—but avoiding what's on the teen's mind may make that teen feel truly alone and uncared for. Tell them that together you can develop a strategy to make things better. Ask if your child has a plan for suicide. If he or she does, then seek professional help immediately.

  • Remove lethal weapons from your home, such as guns. Lock up pills, and be aware of the location of kitchen utensils, as well as ropes, and other household items that could cause harm.

  • Get professional help. A teen at risk of suicide needs professional help. Even when the immediate crisis passes, the risk of suicidal behavior remains high until new ways of dealing and coping with problems are learned.

  • Don’t be afraid to take your child to a hospital emergency room if it is clear that he or she is planning suicide. You may not be able to handle the situation on your own.

Peer Support Can Be Effective

When talking with people who have been suicidal, many times they were isolated and lacking connection with others. Hope Squad is an effective peer program that helps reduce the stigma regarding mental health an suicide. The program trains students to have productive conversations with students who are struggling and connect them to school staff, their parents, and outside resources to get the support they need.
What is Hope Squad?

Link Between Prevention and Outcome

Connection is key. The more connection students have with their family, peers and school environment, the more resources they will have to draw from when they are going through difficulty.
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Science of Kindness

Simply put, kindness is being nice to others. As you examine kindness further, a number of important dimensions begin to unfold. Kindness is being generous with others, giving your time, money, and talent to support those who are in need. Kindness is being compassionate, which means to really be there for someone, listening intently to their suffering or just sitting with them and silently supporting them. Such compassion involves a deep concern for the welfare of others. Kindness is also being nurturing and caring to others — to enjoy doing favors for them, to take care of them, and to perform good deeds.

Kind individuals believe that others are worthy of attention and affirmation for their own sake as human beings, not out of a sense of duty or principle. There are three traits of altruistic personalities:

  • Empathy/sympathy
  • Moral reasoning
  • Social responsibility
The Science of Kindness

Resource for Kindness Activities

Encourage your child to look for opportunities to be kind to others, especially students they may not be friends with or have connections with yet. This not only will help your child with their social and communication skills, but it will also likely boost their mood and their words/actions may be exactly what another child going through a difficult time may need.

Below is a website with many quotes, activities, and stories of kindness: