Suicide Prevention

By: Amy Gleason
By: Amy Gleason

Suicide is one crime we don't usually report here at TV-3 because we don't want to glamorize it. But more young people are becoming victims of suicide, and at younger ages. That's why school administrators and resource officers got together Wednesday to learn how we can save these young lives.

"He had shot himself through the neck," said a father of 15-year-old suicide victim, Mathew Helfrey. "The back of his head ... there was blood everywhere. You know when your shot with a high-powered rifle it just goes right through."

Matthew's story is one of many being told to school administrators, resource officers and other local law enforcement.

"There are a lot of kids in personal crisis right now," said Steve Clark with the VA Center for School Safety. "Whether it be the culture of violence they're being raised in, whether it be the break down of the family structure, whether it be substance abuse ... there are a lot of contributing factors."

Something can be done. It's called the QPR Method. First -- a question.

“Have you considered committing suicide?," said Clark. "That's a hard thing for us to ask. In our culture, we don't want to get that far into another person's life."

Persuade the person not to kill himself and to get help. And, refer the person to someone who can help.

By bringing this group together, the hope is that a team effort will make identifying and solving the problem a little more manageable.

"When you team that law enforcement officer with a school administrator that has intimate knowledge of the situation, plus a school guidance counselor that has the expertise of dealing with children in crisis, you open up the whole door to turn that child around and make things better," added Clark.

If you know someone in need of help, call 1-800-SUICIDE. They will refer the person in need to the closest crisis center.

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Teen Suicide

  • Each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide.

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-14-year-olds.

  • Teenagers experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears while growing up.

  • For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with step-parents and step-siblings, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and can intensify self-doubts.

  • Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders.

  • The child or adolescent needs to have his or her illness recognized and diagnosed, and appropriate treatment plans developed. When parents are in doubt whether their child has a serious problem, a psychiatric examination can be very helpful.

Warning Signs

  • Change in eating and sleeping habits.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities.
  • Violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance.
  • Marked personality change.
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or decline in the quality of school work.
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities.
  • Not tolerating praise or rewards.
  • Complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten.
  • Give verbal statements like, “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” “It’s no use,” and “I won’t see you again.”
  • Put his or her affairs in order, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings.
  • Become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression.
  • Have signs of physical psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts).

Source: www.aacap.org (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Web site) contributed to this report.


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