Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities. While its causes are complex and determined by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is to reduce factors that increase risk and increase factors that promote resilience.

Early Warning Signs:
Sited by the United States Department of Education. Steps should be followed in order to identify and help young people at risk, including a referral to someone in the school who has been trained to assess suicide risk. School systems should include efforts to recognize the warning signs, refer students to appropriate resources, and create reentry plans for students coming back to school after a crisis that coordinate with mental health treatment plans

Warning Signs that require immediate action:

  • Talking or writing about suicide or death
  • Giving direct verbal cues
  • Giving less direct verbal cues
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family
  • Expressing the belief that life is meaningless
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Exhibiting a sudden and unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed or withdrawn
  • Neglecting his or her appearance and hygiene
  • Dropping out of school or social, athletic, and/or community activities
  • Obtaining means such as a firearm or prescription medications


Warning Signs that may indicate a youth is at risk:

  • A sudden deteriorating academic performance. Teens who were typically conscientious about their school work and who are now neglecting assignments, cutting classes, or missing school altogether.
  • Self-mutilation. Some young people resort to cutting their arms or legs with razor blades and other sharp objects to cope with emotional pain. Self- mutilation is an unmistakable sign that something is wrong.
  • A fixation with death or violence. Teens may express this fixation through poetry, essays, doodling, or other artwork. They may be preoccupied with violent movies, video games, and music, or fascinated with weapons.
  • Unhealthy peer relationships. Teens whose circle of friends dramatically changes, who don’t have friends, or who begin associating with other young people known for substance abuse or other risky behaviors may signal a change in their emotional lives.
  • Volatile mood swings or a sudden change in personality. Teens who become sullen, silent, and withdrawn, or angry and acting out. Conversely, and teen sullen by nature may start to behave uncharacteristically cheerful. Both internalizing and externalizing behaviors warrant a conversation to determine if the student is at risk.
  • Indications that the student is in an unhealthy, destructive, or abusive relationship. This can include abusive relationships with peers or family members. Signs of an abusive relationship include unexplained bruises, a swollen face, or other injuries, particularly if the student refuses to discuss them.
  • Risk-taking behaviors. Risk-taking behaviors often co-occur and are symptomatic of underlying emotional or social problems. Such behaviors as unprotected sex, alcohol or other drug use, driving recklessly or without a license, petty theft, or vandalism can be an indication that something is wrong.
  • Signs of an eating disorder. An eating disorder is an unmistakable sign that a student needs help. A dramatic change in weight that is not associated with a medically supervised diet may also indicate that something is wrong.
  • Difficulty in adjusting to gender identity. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex teens are a vulnerable population and have higher suicide attempt rates than their heterosexual peers. While coming to terms with gender identity can be challenging for many young people, LGBTQI youth face social pressures that can make this adjustment especially difficult, particularly if they are not in a supportive environment.

Reporting Early Warning Signs
In the event that students and staff observe a student manifesting early warning signs, the following procedures are:

Contact the school principal or counselor immediately to report the information about the student manifesting such signs.

 Please refer to resource links below for additional help.


Cyberstalking Resource:

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