Washoe Country School District
Suicide Prevention and Intervention
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of kindness.
Suicide Prevention and Intervention:
- What can you do?
- What do you need to do?
- What are the facts?
- Where do you go for help?
Through our work at Washoe County School District, we encounter many students, parents, and colleagues. Someday, sometime, somewhere it is very likely that we will need to know what to do, what to say, and how to reach another person regarding the issue of suicide.
There are several facts about suicide.
1. Very often if people in crisis get the help they need, they may never be suicidal again.
2. Asking someone about suicidal intent opens up communication, lowers the risk of an impulsive act, and helps with anxiety.
3. Suicide prevention is everyone's business, anyone can help to prevent the tragedy of suicide not just the experts, and talking about prevention does not encourage it or make it more likely.
4. Suicidal people share their plans sometimes even the week preceding their attempt, and those who talk about it may try or even complete an act of self-destruction.
5. Suicide is the MOST preventable kind of death and almost any positive action can help save a life.
6. The more clues and warning signs observed the greater the risk. Take all signs seriously.
Signs that someone you know may be suicidal
(Adapted from the Crisis Call Center, United Way, the American Association of Suicidology Hotline, and the Nevada Division of Mental Health and Development Services pamphlet)
- Experiencing a long bout of unhappiness
- Has experienced one or more major losses-death, job loss, and failure at school or at home, loss of a relationship- break-up or divorce in family.
- Health problems or major illness
- Experiencing insomnia or sleeping too much
- Decrease in self care- messier appearance, tardiness and absence
- Experiencing loss of appetite or overeating
- Increasingly isolated-avoiding friends, less participation in activities and classes, dropping out or quitting things that they loved or cared about before.
- Giving away prized possessions- arranging delivery of notes to family "in a couple of days, if anything should ever happen to me". Visiting long missed friends/relatives/ and apologizing for forgotten arguments.
- Doing poorly in school or at work
- Abusing drugs or alcohol either beginning to use or an increase in use.
- Suddenly happy after a long depression.
- Making statements about wanting to die or be gone- listening, composing and collecting music or poems about death, suicide, or afterlife.
What can you do?
Use the Question, Persuade and Refer model with students, parents and staff that you may know. QPR is not counseling or treatment but a way to offer hope through positive action and to get help for someone before it is too late.
Question: If you can't ask, find someone who can.
If in doubt, don't wait ask the question. It is ok to use the word suicide. Remember how you ask the question is less important then that you ask it.
- Be persistent with the reluctant person.
- Talk alone in a private setting.
- Give lots of time and allow the person to talk freely.
- Have resources handy: phone numbers and counselor's name and other information that may help you.
Listen and give full attention.
Remember, that suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insolvable problem.
- Don't give unsolicited advice
- Let them know that many people think about suicide but never attempt it
- Be non-judgmental and offer hope in any form. Say "I want you to live" or "I am with you and we'll get through this"
- Ask will you go with me to get help? Will you promise not to kill yourself until we have found some help?
- Get others involved. The protocol for suicide is to tell a loved one of the person who is considering the act. It is the protocol for a minor student to call the parent or guardian. Ask the school counselor or administrator to help you if you need it.
- Suicidal people often believe that they cannot be helped, so you may have to do or be more.
- The best referral involves taking the person directly to someone who can help.
- The next best referral is getting a commitment from them to accept help
- Then making arrangements to get it. Use the Suicide Hotline number and Crisis Call center numbers below.
- Get a commitment from them to not complete or attempt suicide till you get help. Stay with them. Do something together. If you can't and have immediate concern call law enforcement or the hospital for immediate intervention.
- Follow-up with a visit, call or a card. Do what helps them feel like you care.
- Caring may save a life.
24 hour help
1-800- Suicide - Toll Free Suicide Hotline
784-8090 Crisis Call Center
Or call your local law enforcement agency in an emergency situation
Or contact Katherine Loudon - Coordinator of Safe and Drug Free Schools at 775-850-8012.