Social and Emotional Learning
The Social and Emotional Learning department coordinates the implementation and growth of culturally responsive and emotionally safe learning environments. They have resources to help students develop skills to manage their emotions, form positive relationships, feel empathy for others, and make responsible decisions.Problem Solving Behavioral Functions and Intervention Strategies that Teach Desirable Replacement Behaviors – IAT Training handoutsNational Suicide Prevention Month
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. All month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness.
National Suicide Prevention Week (September 10th- 16th) is the Monday through Sunday surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s a time to share resources and stories, as well as promote suicide prevention awareness.
World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10. It’s a time to remember those affected by suicide, to raise awareness, and to focus efforts on directing treatment to those who need it most.
What leads to suicide?
There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase the risk for suicide. Yet it’s important to note that most people who actively manage their mental health conditions go on to engage in life.
Suicide Warning Signs
Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.
If a person talks about:
- Killing themselves
- Feeling hopeless
- Having no reason to live
- Being a burden to others
- Feeling trapped
- Unbearable pain
Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
- Withdrawing from activities
- Isolating from family and friends
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:
- Loss of interest
- Relief/Sudden Improvement
Suicide Risk Factors
Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.
- Mental health conditions
- Substance use problems
- Bipolar disorder
- Personality traits of aggression, mood changes and poor relationships
- Conduct disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Serious physical health conditions including pain
- Traumatic brain injury
- Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
- Prolonged stress, such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems or unemployment
- Stressful life events, like rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life transitions or loss
- Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Childhood abuse, neglect or trauma
While this data is the most accurate we have, we estimate the numbers to be higher. The stigma surrounding suicide leads to underreporting, and data collection methods critical to suicide prevention need to be improved.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States
- Each year approximately 45,000 Americans die by suicide
- For every one suicide completed there are approximately 25 attempts
Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their deaths. There are biological and psychological treatments that can help address the underlying health issues that put people at risk for suicide.
Treatment for Suicide and Suicide Attempts
At this time, there is only one medication, clozapine, approved by the FDA for suicide risk reduction in patients with schizophrenia. There is one study of mood disorder patients that show that treatment with antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics, and lithium reduced death by suicide. There are meta-analyses of small lithium studies that show that suicide is reduced in patients with either bipolar disorder or major depression taking lithium, but those findings are controversial.
There are two proven psychotherapies for treating those who attempt suicide: cognitive behavior therapy for suicide attempters (CBT for suicide attempters) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) for patients with borderline personality disorder and recurrent suicidal ideation and behaviors. Clearly, these short-term interactive therapies make a difference.
There are many small studies of various interventions, including promising short-term therapies that include the family, that show that repeat suicide attempts are reduced under the treatment condition being tested.
Treatment for Major Depression
Research shows that teaching healthcare professionals to recognize and treat depression is an effective way to reduce suicide rates. Because that is a proven fact, we focus here on how depression can be treated, both with medications and with psychotherapy.
If the depression is mild, the doctor may begin with psychotherapy alone and add medication later if the symptoms don’t improve.
Many medications are available to treat depression, the most common of which are antidepressants. About 22 medications are currently approved by the FDA. Since there is no accurate test to match a person’s symptoms and complaints with the right medication, there is no way to know which drug will work best for a particular person. The person who may be depressed should discuss with their doctor the medication choice and how to take it, as well as the potential side effects. Sometimes there is the need to try a few different medications before finding the one that gives the best result with minimum side effects.
When the optimal dose with the best medication is achieved, the antidepressant may take from 4–12 weeks to achieve maximum benefit, but it is possible for one or two symptoms to improve in the first few weeks.
When antidepressants are started or when doses are increased, a few patients, especially children, adolescents, and young adults, may experience increased anxiety, agitation, restlessness, irritability or anger which may lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts. These should be outlined by the doctor before the treatment begins.
Beyond medicines, specific types of psychotherapies have been proven effective for treating depression. These are usually short-term lasting from 12–16 weeks and they are formalized and interactive. Sessions may take place one to two times a week with a professional who has been specifically trained and certified in the treatment they are using.
The most common types of psychotherapy for depression are cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), behavioral activation (BH), and cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP). There is clear evidence from research studies that combining antidepressants with any one of these psychotherapies is the best treatment for chronic depression, meaning that the patient has had a depressive illness for two years or more.
If the depression does not respond to treatment or if it is very severe or if psychotic symptoms appear, there are additional treatments that should be used. The oldest and best studied is electroconvulsive therapy, a treatment that can be given as an out or inpatient, but requires anesthesia and the delivery of a small electric current to the brain. It is remarkably effective but can have side effects, which the doctors are working to reduce.
A similar treatment is transmagnetic stimulation (TMS) which is less dramatic and may not be as effective.
Finally, for those who suffer from a seasonal mood disorder (SAD), the doctor may suggest light therapy in addition to other treatment.
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Another high-risk group is people with bipolar disorder, which is characterized by mood swings from high (manic) to low (depressed), often with periods of feeling normal between. Those with bipolar disorder are at greatest risk for suicide when they are in a depression or have a mixed mood state.
With bipolar disorder, the doctor will begin treatment with a mood stabilizer such as lithium, mood-stabilizing anticonvulsants, or antipsychotics. The use of antidepressants for the depressive phase of the illness is sometimes important, but there is no evidence that antidepressants have long-lasting results.
Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
When combined with depression, bipolar disorder or any mental disorder, alcohol and drug abuse can increase suicide risk. When being treated, the patient should be completely honest about his/her alcohol or drug intake for the safest treatment and the best chance of getting better. Treatment for alcohol and drug abuse is varied but always includes a strong psychosocial component. A new online resource is now available to help people recognize and find high-quality care for alcohol use disorder.
- If it's an emergency in which you or someone you know is suicidal, you should immediately, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.
- 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Red Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454
Veterans Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255
Trevor LGBTQ Crisis Hotline 1-866-488-7386
Dr. Roberta Scott, Ph.D
Director, Social and Emotional Learning
Safe Schools Administrator.
Lorenzo Moore, Ph.D.
Manager, Behavior and Crisis Interventions.
Mary Schweitzer, Ph.D.
Manager, Behavior Interventions and Restorative Discipline