Suicide Prevention

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools-Psychological Services

September is suicide prevention awareness month

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 and the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has provided this great infographic with these and additional statistics. Suicide prevention month is “a time to raise awareness on this stigmatized, and often taboo, topic. In addition to shifting public perception, we use this month to spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide. While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength around a difficult topic” (National Alliance for Mental Illness).

Information provided by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates the someone dies from suicide every 12 minutes and suicide rates have increased in every state over the past two decades. Visit their website for more information about how to help as well as resources for specific at risk groups.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has created #BeThe1To for National Suicide and Prevention month and beyond to spread the word about actions we can ALL take to prevent suicide. They are working with their partners to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, actions that promote healing, help, and give hope. We can prevent suicide by learning to help ourselves, help others, seek consultation from trained providers (hotlines and clinicians) and to seek hospital care when necessary. Learn about these steps and why they are effective here. Find ways to participate and help save a life here.

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Risk Factors

Risk factors are characteristics that precede and increase the likelihood of suicidal behavior or suicide.

  • Mental health Conditions
  • Serious physical health conditions
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Access to firearms/drugs
  • Recent tragedy or loss
  • Prolonged stress
  • History of neglect, trauma or abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)

Common Myths About Suicide

Debunking the common myths associated with suicide can help society realize the importance of helping others seek treatment and show individuals the importance of addressing their mental health challenges. Here are 5 common myths about suicide.

  1. Suicide only affects a person with a mental illness.
  2. Once an individual is suicidal, he/she will always remain suicidal.
  3. Most suicides happen without warning.
  4. People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out.
  5. Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
NAMI has provided facts here to debunk these myths.
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Warning Signs

Warning signs are characteristics that indicate imminent risk for suicide.


  • about killing themselves
  • about feeling hopeless
  • about having no reason to live
  • about being a burden to others
  • about feeling trapped
  • about unbearable pain (physical or emotional)


  • drinking more alcohol/using drugs
  • looking for ways to end their lives
  • withdrawing from activities
  • isolating themselves from friends/family/loved ones
  • sleeping too much/too little
  • saying goodbye to others
  • giving away valued possessions
  • becoming aggressive


  • depressed
  • anxious
  • uninterested
  • irritable
  • humiliated
  • agitated
  • enraged
  • tired

This information along with how to help and deal with suicide can be found on the Crisis Text Line page.

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The National Association for School Psychologists has provided these Tips for Parents and Educators for Preventing Youth Suicide.

Remain calm.

Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide/killing themselves.

Listen without judging.

Provide constant supervision.

Remove any objects that could be used for self-harm.

Call 911 if danger for self-harm seems imminent.

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Resources specific to LGBTQ+

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. Their website provides education, resources and ways to get involved.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) also has links to resources for wanting to help prevent suicide in LGBTQ communities, outlets and crisis response supports for LQBTQ members, and just information to learn more about LGBTQ and suicide.

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W-S/FCS Suicide Risk Assessment Protocol

When you have reason to believe a student may be at risk for suicide or may be experiencing suicidal ideation, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Take the threat of self-harm seriously.
  2. Immediately contact school principal (or designee) and school counselor (designated reporter) to inform them.
  3. Remove and walk student to a designated safe place with continuous adult supervision. In a virtual/online environment, keep video or phone contact with student.
  4. Attempt to calm and engage student until help (trained team members) arrives.
  5. Trained team members meet with student to gather information, including specific inquiry as to the existence of suicidal ideation, intent, and plan.
  6. Team members assess student's level of risk and engage in safety planning with parents/guardians and student.
  7. Team member or school administrator notifies parents/guardians and requests that they come to school.

If an attempt has been made or situation is deemed imminent, call 911.

If an attempt has been made, the area is to be secured and crisis response initiated.

Additional Useful websites/resources

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides this list of warning signs associated with child and adolescent suicide.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) offers a comprehensive website with resources to prevent and spread awareness about suicide. AFSP also provides a great tool that focuses on strategies for helping youth and teens cope with a loss by suicide. This valuable resource is structurally organized to help those who are aiding students during a crisis related to suicide.

Crisis Text Line provides individuals with the opportunity to connect with a crisis counselor right at their fingertips.

Daymark Recovery Services is a local service providing mobile crisis management which provides comprehensive crisis intervention. The service operates year round, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. They provide assessment, de-escalation, and intervention techniques to achieve client safety.

The National Association of School Psychologists offers many resources that provide insight on how to prevent youth suicide. There are links for administrators, parents, teachers, and students.

National Council for Suicide Prevention provides 5 steps to save lives.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has compiled a selection of web pages and information sheets on mental health and coping with the effects of COVID-19. These resources are a selection from key organizations in the field. They also provide a simple guide that offers ideas for action to prevent suicide with 14 different areas of focus.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Psychological Services has posted a number of blogs related to suicide prevention. You can find information related to statistics, myths, risk factors, protective factors and many local and national resources.