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SAFER SCHOOLS NEWS-VOL. 95

 

Student Suicide 2006

Student Suicides - 2006

Let's Stop the violence! 

See how KEYS can help!!

Assessing the Potentially Dangerous Student TtT

 

The Year 2006 has started with violence in the news. Violence toward self is not as widely reported, but is ever present. Schools and those who work daily with young people need to increase vigilance in seeing and helping those who are hurting so much that suicide seems to be a good choice.

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GunIn Florida a student pointed a pellet pistol at a police officer and effected his own death in what is now called, "Suicide by Cop." Much less air and press time was given to a number of other school students who died in a brief two week period in January and February. Here are a few that made at least local news:

January 22, 2006 was a Sunday night that found a group of high school students in Massachusetts gathered in back of a middle school for an informal party of using alcohol and prescription drugs known as K-pins. The next day one of the party was hospitalized and another failed to show up for school. Someone called 911 from his parents home Monday afternoon and reported that he had shot and killed himself. He was extremely popular and a talented athlete. Everyone in the community was shaken. The school provided grief counseling to over 400 students in the days following the incident. A crackdown on drug trafficking in the school has resulted in the arrests of an 18 and a 16 year-old students.

On January 30, 2006 a 16 year-old junior exited the bus and entered his high school in Montana as he had done everyday. This day, however, he went immediately to the restroom where his Principal was standing just outside the door. With no sign of hesitation, he entered the restroom. Moments later the Principal was startled by a loud gunshot from inside the restroom. He rushed in and found his student dead of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound. The school was placed in "lock-down" status. Police and emergency responders poured into the school. Shock, disbelief and concern swept the school and the entire community.

Two days later on February 1, in Ohio, a 17 year-old junior walked into a restroom shortly after arriving at school and hanged himself. A fellow student entered the restroom and found the body of his classmate. The school was placed in “lock down” while paramedics worked on the young man and eventually took him away. The school brought in its Emergency Response Intervention Team to provide counseling services as needed. The student was reported be well liked and friendly.

A week later on February 8, in another community in Ohio, a 10 year-old took his own life with a single gunshot. While the suicide happened at home, the death has touched the other students in the area. The school system has responded with their Crisis Intervention Team to meet the needs of the students there.

It is important to note that the schools involved all responded quickly and efficiently with the Crisis Plans and Teams working well. Whenever a suicide happens, it is critical that such steps take place in a very measured fashion. Not only do young people need assistance in handling loss of a friend or classmate, they are in fact at risk of committing “copycat” events. These schools are to praised for handling the aftermath well.

There is still one question that is expressed, or at least thought, during such events: "Why didn't we see it coming?"

Suicide is currently the third leading cause of death in the group of 15-24
year-olds.

People have committed suicide in every era and in every collective group of the human experience. The reasons and methods vary as much as people vary. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is currently the third leading cause of death in the group of 15-24 year-olds.

Depressed Student

The rate of youth suicides has tripled since the 1950s, and today, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. In 1998, more teenagers and young adults died of suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined.”
(
CDC Injury Fact Book 2001-2002.)

 

The United States alone accounts for about 84 suicides per day. With all this history and these statistics it would seem that this subject would be so common place that everyone would know about it, recognize its warning signs and take preventive measures. Sadly this simply is not true. The brief accounts of suicides listed above are moving but are not even the tip of the iceberg “Suicide.” Further examination of just this short 2-3 weeks in mid-winter reveals many more when including university students and international students. Another issue surfaced when collecting this data, under-reporting and not reporting suicides. Many news media, both print and broadcast, as policy do not report youth suicides out of respect for the families. This is admirable. The problem it causes is that failing to report leaves most people believing that suicide is not as bad as cancer, AIDS, strokes and so on. There are even more suicides when moving outside the group called “youth” but the focus of this article is student suicides.

Again the question is posed, "Why didn't we see it coming?"

Students, unlike other segments of our society, are surrounding daily by professional, caring people. Most school personnel have attended classes on “Suicide Prevention.” So, why do so many continue to fall through the cracks and take that ultimate permanent solution to whatever problems were facing them? The answer to that question is a lack of an organized approach. Just knowing warning signs is not enough. Having a class on suicide prevention still falls short. What is needed is training combined with a an effective tool that will identify the signs and provide intervention. This program would need to implemented with the full weight of education community. Just as that community has risen to the occasion to eliminate childhood diseases and student hunger, so should it strive to prevent this social disease known as suicide. When all the maladies listed in the CDC statement above are considered, it should be evident that anything taking more lives than all of them combined should addressed with the same level of commitment. We should be able to see it coming and do something about it.

"Why didn't we see it coming?" This statement was given national prominence when a grieving, angry parent uttered it to the television cameras outside Columbine High School. It has become the title of a book that describes how it is possible to “see it coming” and provides solutions for intervention. It was designed to stem the tide of school violence, which meant “school shooter” in most minds. From the outset, the authors have attempted to point out that there is very little difference between homicide and suicide. The principle difference is simply the direction the anger is focused. While other agencies have done a tremendous effort in isolating certain characteristics of past and potential school shooters, most have failed to realize that the same traits can be used to identify those whose intended targets are themselves. Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of most other programs that seek to identify such students is that the emphasis being on homicide, only one solution is offered, that is, the legal system. It should be readily apparent that arresting someone for being at risk of killing themselves will do little to slow the advance of suicide into our schools. There are viable alternatives.

The Keys To Safer Schools.com approach is to locate the interventions that are actually available within a school’s area as well as within their budget. These are then assembled along with critical decision points into a pre-planned decision tree. The complete program provides for the participation of everyone connected with the school.

PDS Certified Trainer

Everyone becomes an observer, a select few become certified as “assessors” and fewer still become certified as “trainers.” The School Board and Administrators will always be the decision makers. However, the secret of success is making those decisions before any student ever displays a need and having those decisions recorded and approved. Then the "Risk Assessment Team" can move swiftly through recognition, assessment, intervention and after action. This program will save lives. Prevention is best

Remember, suicide claims more lives every year than does cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined. The Keys’ program, Assessing the Potentially Dangerous Student, may not be the equivalent of cure for any one of these horrible conditions, but if fully implemented it could potentially reduce this list to seven rather than eight life claiming diseases.

If your school would be interested in implementing this program, please contact the staff at Keys To Safer Schools.com through their

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This and many other programs are available through Keys at Critical Training. The principles of all Keys' Training are:

  • Practical. If Keys has not seen it work, it is not presented. This is not another theory, but practical application that can be put in place immediately.

  • Tailored. Keys never tries to force a canned program. Every training event is designed to meet the needs of the organization. Keys Multi-Disciplinary Team of Subject Matter Experts can asses needs and design a specific program.

  • Cost effective. Keys is keenly aware of budget limitations in education. All trainings are priced well below national norms and most provide certification as a trainer so that the school can then provide their own training in-house.

If your school or organization is concerned about slowing the trend to violence in today's youth, contact Key To Safer Schools today to learn how your school can be better prepared. You may even find how you can receive free training.

  • To Learn How "Keys To Safer Schools" Can Help.
  • To Learn more about Crisis Planning
  • Learning what to look for - "Early Warning Signs"
  • Map of School Shootings
  •  

    If you have any comments or questions please Email us at keys@keystosaferschools.com.

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