University of Washington
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Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention

Law prompts schools to take steps to prevent suicide
State law calls for school crisis plans, training and community partnerships to help students dealing with suicidal thoughts and emotional distress (iStock photo)

What’s a classroom teacher to do when a student mentions having suicidal thoughts, or shows signs of emotional distress? How does the school counselor talk with the student’s parent? And where can the counselor refer a student for help? How should teachers, counselors and administration handle the grief and confusion following a student death by suicide? Crisis plans help educators anticipate and respond to issues like these. Washington’s public school districts are expected to have crisis plans in place by the end of this school year.

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Kristen Spexarth leads workshop participants in meditation as one means of “leaning into the discomfort” of losing a loved one to suicide. — Photo by Melissa Allison

Strange as it may seem, spending time with a group of hurting loss suicide survivors can be the most comforting experience on earth. For other survivors, it’s a chance to let down their guard, to not have to explain themselves and to just share the pain and know that they are understood.

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Debbie Reisert’s mind churns with what-ifs when she thinks about her grandson’s death by suicide at age 16. One of the biggest is what if the guns and ammunition had not been readily at hand in the mobile home where she found Brian Stephens’ body after he went missing from her nearby home in Packwood. 

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Insights Blog

Insights Blog

Jan 23, 2015
257
Please watch Our Youth and Suicide - a six-person scene. I mean it. Please do. To my high school classmate who asked how seriously to take her 9-year-old when he talked of killing himself—watch this tonight. To the woman who recently cleaned my teeth while describing her suicidal teenage... more
Jan 09, 2015
255
Here’s another talking point for raising awareness that preventing access to lethal means can prevent suicides. A national survey found that 41 percent of teenagers living in homes with firearm have easy access and “could shoot it right now,” even if they are already at risk for suicide. Suicide... more
Nov 24, 2014
250
The University of Arizona has been getting a lot of attention -- deservedly -- for its comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. It calls its program Project Lifeline. One of the novel aspects of this program is that it directly engages the university's academic units in suicide... more