Suicide Prevention Education for Students

SOS Signs of Suicide®

Learning to recognize signs of depression and suicide are the focus of discussion each fall for our sixth grade and ninth grade students. New students in grades 6-12 also receive training in the fall on the SOS Signs of Suicide® program. Returning students in grade 7-8 and 10-12 revisit key concepts in the SOS Signs of Suicide® program with their teachers, preparing nearly all students in grades 6-12 to recognize that suicide is not a normal response to stress, but rather is a preventable tragedy that often occurs as a result of untreated depression.

The SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program is a national program that teaches students how to recognize symptoms of depression and suicide in themselves or friends that indicate a need for further evaluation. Students view videos about the signs of suicide and the steps to take if they, a friend, or loved one is at risk.

Students learn to ACT:

A – Acknowledge: Admit that you are seeing signs of depression or suicide in a friend and that it is serious.

C – Care: Let your friend know that you care about him or her, and that you are concerned that he or she needs help you cannot provide.

T – Tell: Inform a trusted adult, either with your friend or on his or her behalf. Never promise to keep the secret!

The Grain Valley School District is committed to helping our students navigate the challenges of the teen years, while helping to develop coping skills that serve them as adults as well.

High school seniors also receive instruction on a revised ACT that called on these young adults to seek treatment as they transition beyond high school: T – Treatment.

Administering the SOS program is a collaborative effort with district counselors and regional mental health professionals to the meet the mental health needs of Grain Valley students.

Since the program was introduced at our high school in 2012, trained staff have followed up on dozens of students who have made self-referrals because they were concerned for themselves. Still others have referred a peer out of concern. When referrals are for students not attending our high school, staff still follow up to ensure those children’s needs are being addressed no matter where they live.

Parents are notified immediately if a concern is raised by or about their child. The schools offer parent orientations to preview the videos and learn more about the program. Parents are offered the opportunity to have their child opt out of the program ahead of time.

Parents are encouraged to seek help if they are concerned about their child. Our counselors are here to advise and connect families to resources. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a helpful resource is 1-800-273-8255.

Symptoms of Depression:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Hopelessness
  • Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
  • Persistent boredom; low energy
  • Social isolation; poor communication
  • Low self esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Thought or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior

Warning Signs for Suicide:

  • Talking, reading, or writing about suicide or death
  • Talking about feeling worthless or helpless
  • Saying things like, “I’m going to kill myself”, “I wish I were dead”, or “I shouldn’t have been born”
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving things away
  • Organizing or cleaning one’s bedroom “for the last time”
  • Developing a sudden interest in drinking alcohol
  • Purposefully putting oneself in danger
  • Obsessing about death, violence, and guns or knives
  • Previous suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Serious behavior problems
  • Having a past history or currently being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused

HB 1583 was signed into law in June, 2016, requiring Missouri school districts to adopt policy on youth suicide awareness and calling for annual training on suicide prevention.

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