Suicide Prevention: How Can Schools Help?

(soft tech sounds) – Suicide prevention and mental health entered the national spotlight last year with rapper Logic’s moving
song titled 1-800-273-8255 the number to the suicide
prevention hotline. He, Alessia Cara, and Khalid
gave an emotional performance of the song, at the 2018 Grammy’s. ♪ It feel like my life ain’t mine. ♪ ♪ I finally wanna be a live ♪ – During the performance
he was surrounded by suicide survivors and the hotline number was displayed across his
sweatshirt and on his stage. In interviews about this
Logic said he wanted to write a song that would have a
noticeable impact on others. And it did. For the first two hours
after the performance, calls to the suicide prevention lifeline were tripled the normal amount. Today, we’re gonna talk to you about something super important, suicide. It’s impacting youth in alarming numbers and it’s the second leading cause of death among 10 to 25 year olds. According to the data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in
six adolescents reported having suicidal thoughts in 2017. More teenagers and young
adults die from suicide, than from cancer, heart
disease, AIDS, birth defect, strokes, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined. Wow, just let that sit for a second. So, as difficult as this topic
is to talk about, it’s real, and it’s time to get real and start a discussion on
how to solve this problem. Which brings us to the question, what can schools do to
support mental health and prevent teen suicides? Student reporters from
Etiwanda High School in Southern California
brought this topic to us. These students are part
of a national youth journalism program called PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. This is Chloe, Tim and Chris. They researched, wrote
and produced this for us. So first off, what made
you guys want to tackle a topic like this in the first place? – So last year in our community, there were four people
who died by suicide, which is really tragic. And we really needed a video
to bring the subject to light. – I mean and how did your
school respond to it? – In our community, a
lot of teachers and staff at our school did not really
want us to talk about it and really be open about our feelings. The whole purpose of this
is video is to kinda start a conversation and discussions like people to kinda of get the help they need. – Yeah, I totally get that. Like, it wasn’t just that the
kids didn’t know what to do, it was the teachers too. So, no one no one knew what to do. Like, we’re all sort
of trapped in a whole. So we really just wanna
spread awareness and knowledge about the subject so that other people can be more well prepared. – Alright let’s get it started. – First before we go further,
we would like to remind you that if you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal
thoughts or feelings right now, call the suicide prevention hotline, 1-800-273 talk. That’s 1-800-273-8255. If you don’t wanna talk to someone, you can text at 741741 anonymously. And the counselor will come to your aid, whether or not you’re
currently in a crisis. – It seems like one reason
schools are struggling to help students is because
they don’t wanna get it wrong and somehow make things worse. Which is something we
worried about ourselves when making this video. So we did some digging to
see what seems to be working. The good news is, there’s a
lot of information out there, like this toolkit from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Okay, full disclosure,
this thing is 250 pages. So we didn’t read all of it, but it does provide
recommendations for starting suicide prevention
programs in high schools. All based on research and expert opinion. There’s a lot of really
detailed info in this thing. But what we find most interesting, was this list of established programs. We were particularly
interested in a program called Sources of Strength because it
has a peer leader component. In this program the peer
leaders help prevent suicide by promoting mental health messages. And this was really appealing
to us because students at our school are really craving a way to de-stigmatize mental health. And have it be something
we can actually talk about. And a lot of students
don’t feel comfortable talking to adults about
what they’re going through. So we traveled up to Benicia high school in Northern California to see how they use Sources of Strength. – Sources of strength at its core is a suicide prevention group, but it’s also to help people get through everyday things because it can build up. – My role as a peer
leader is to be someone for people to listen to, be someone who’s just there for them. I’m not a therapist, so
I can’t really give them straight advice that
will help them majorly. I’m just there to ease their problems. I’m there to listen to them. – There is a trainer that
comes here once a year, every year in the beginning of the year, and we have a two day training and it just teaches you how
to again be a peer leader and how to lookout for
people at the school that may need help if they’re
struggling through stuff and how we can recognize that in people and what they’re feeling. – We’ll notice when certain
people are acting different, acting sad, acting anxious. That awareness allows us to
approach them and be like, hey, are you doing okay. – We also go and make
presentations to a bunch of classes about dealing with anxiety
and dealing with stress and things that you can do to, you know, alleviate your stress. And we also have ads around
the school, we have posters. – The mission of Sources
of Strength is to like, kinda break the stigma, like, it isn’t a bad thing to talk about. Like, it can only get better when we’re all sharing
and talking about it. – What we really liked about it was that there were so many
resources that we could use, so many ways that the
students could seek help, and that they could support
each other one to one. – We know that there are a
lot of programs out there. We are happy to report
that, even our schools look at models like this one. – You can listen to the
experts, look at the statistics, or you could listen to the
stories from our youth. Bottom line is mental
health is a big deal, and student’s need schools to implement comprehensive suicide
prevention strategies. – So now we wanna hear from you. Does your school have any mental health or suicide prevention programs? How do you think schools can
best help prevent suicides? – And be sure to let us know
down in the comments below. – And remember, please
nice and respectful. You may never know how the person behind the screen maybe feeling. – And a big shout out to these students from PBS NewsHour Reporting
Labs at Etiwanda high and our partners at PBS SoCal. Public media for the win. And if you like this video, check out this one from students
from Northview High School. And stay tuned for more
episodes like this coming up. And for you teachers out there, get your students involved
the discussion on KQED Learn. And as always I’m your host, Myles Bess, and stay above the noise everybody. Bye, we’ll see you next time
– Bye! (laughter)

21 thoughts on “Suicide Prevention: How Can Schools Help?”

  1. Approximately 1 in 6 teenagers reported having suicidal thoughts in 2017. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10-to 24 year-olds. What role do you think schools should play in helping students grapple with increasing levels of depression and anxiety? What kinds of programs do you think are most effective?

  2. Thank you for making this video to inform others about this epidemic and how we can prevent it.

    And anyone who is going thru a hard time so hope you have a good day and don't worry things will get better???❤

  3. The problem with the 1-800 number and many mental health programs is that once you tell them you're feeling suicidal they whisk you off and lock you up. If they don't do that then they tell you to make an appointment with a therapist- which can take weeks. So either the suicidal person has the stress, stigma, and financial burden of going to a treatment center or they're told to make an appointment and not be suicidal until they see a psych. All of this is complicated more if that person doesn't have health insurance or the out-of-pocket cost is more than they can afford. Add to that the dangerous 6 week trial period for any antidepressants, then you have a person who ends up more unstable than if they hadn't asked for help. Free, extensive, and accessable- that's the only way that mental healthcare will work.

  4. 3:08 – "It's 200 pages, so we didn't read all of it [but we're making a video about it anyway]" – ? I'm a slow reader, so reading through 200 pages would be a chore for me, but surely there's at least one person at PBSDS who can read fast enough to be able to get through the whole thing before (or even while) you make the video. ?

  5. One of my students attempted suicide. It was in the beginning of the year so I didn't know her yet. It's easy to look back on it and see the warning signs after. There's one particular moment that haunts me and it's taken years for me to forgive myself. I was suffering from depression at that time myself although I didn't know it yet. I left teaching that year and haven't gone back to working at a school since. Our suicide prevention training was a 20 minute video. Teachers aren't trained therapists but sometimes we are expected to be and it's a difficult line to walk because we are already spread so thin. We're the front lines but we are truly powerless sometimes. At least that's the way I felt. I'm not even sure what my point is with the comment but I wanted to leave it here anyway. Thanks for listening.

  6. Thanks a lot for the video! Mental health is big problem in the U.S, and I think that opening up the conversation is a great way to start solving these problems; the more people there are who talk about it, the more people will feel like it needs to be talked about.

  7. About the stigma: Mental health is still seen as separate from physical health. But mental health problems are just diseases/conditions of the brain, which is of course a physical organ. Hopefully some day depression, anxiety and other neurological conditions are viewed no differently than, say, diabetes or broken bones are. Neurology and psychology are still very young as far as health related disciplines are concerned, and researchers understand so little about the highly complex biological machine between our ears. So it's really not surprising that the stigma still pervades.

  8. I know it’s an easy fix to just “get schools to do more”, but as a teacher, you have to remember: We already have a packed curriculum to teach; schools already lack the adequate resources to teach that; most teachers are underpaid and often need a second job just to get by; and teachers are NOT mental health professionals.

    I’m not saying schools shouldn’t do more, but adequate training and useful resources MUST be provided first.

  9. In Brazil, call: 188

    No Brasil, ligue para o Centro de Valorização da Vida, pelo número 188.

    O CVV – Centro de Valorização da Vida realiza apoio emocional e prevenção do suicídio, atendendo voluntária e gratuitamente todas as pessoas que querem e precisam conversar, sob total sigilo por telefone, email e chat 24 horas todos os dias.

  10. To my knowledge, there were no formal departments or counselors ready to discuss mental health issues when I was in school. We had general policies but the solution was always to go out of school for things like therapists, psychologists, family, etc. Having a general manual is definitely an improvement compared to what I had since it at least provides something to reference to and (hopefully) build upon. My issue is the way that suicide is still being framed in the United States.

    Even with peer leader groups, I worry that the discussion will be framed in a preventive manner. Like, what can we do to prevent this from happening? Having these conversations be generally known is great, but I would hope that there will be space to explore what makes suicide so alluring as an option to people who consider it. I feel like one of the biggest problems America faces is that to a lot of us, the only way we can approach suicide is as a tragedy, something that is wholly bad. If understanding is our priority, then we have to acknowledge that to some people, suicide is a genuine option for something better. Breaking down that line of thinking and poking holes in it and providing alternatives is (in my opinion) the best way to combat suicide.

    For an example, there's a podcast where a philosophy professor criticized the assertion one of their students made about "life being meaningless". They said that to say all life is meaningless is to establish a standard nobody could reach, it's a way to set yourself up for failure. Link to the podcast if anyone's curious:

  11. Hi, I need your advise!!! My friend took drugs and she is suicidel (we are 11) I want to tell an adult but then my friend would NEVER trust me! She only told me so she would know if I did it Onominously. I'm not suicidel anymore but my friend is getting worse everyday! Tell me what to do please!!! I'm worried about her! Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *