Our role in suicide prevention

It’s our job to surround students with the support to thrive in the classroom and to nurture their sense of hope about the future. But the truth is, many of them are in the depths of heartbreaking anxiety, depression, and isolation.

The suicide rate among young people ages 10 to 17 is increasing astronomically. From 2006 to 2016, the rate shot up by an alarming 70 percent. 

Just this week, the suicides of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef, author, and television personality Anthony Bourdain have thrust depression and emotional and mental health into the spotlight.

Their suicides are part of a terrible trend, according to the Centers for Disease Control: Suicide rates are up 30 percent since 1999, and in 2015 hit a 40-year high among teen-aged girls.

An NEA Today article points out that untreated mental health conditions are a major contributor. There are other factors as well, including academic pressures, bullying, and family problems.

Whatever the causes, educators have a role to play in responding to this national crisis. As the Heard Alliance, a San Francisco Bay Area-based group of health care professionals, says, “Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. Reducing the number of suicides requires the engagement and commitment of people in many sectors including education.”

Read more in the NEA Today article “As Teen Suicide Rate Increases, States Look to Schools to Address Crisis.”  Click here for other resources, including information about suicide prevention from the Heard Alliance.

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