Teen Suicide: An Assessment that Saved a Life
I thoroughly enjoy speaking to school communities, parents, and mental health professionals about teens and their mental health. Teen suicide is an epidemic, and we as educators have a greater responsibility than ever to be an active part the solution.
Yes – I am putting pressure on all of us in education, and I’m sorry. This is just too important.
I understand that our teens’ mental well-bring isn’t the direct responsibility of our teachers, counselors, administrations, and coaches. However, we are the significant and trusted adults and have the opportunity to get to know our students on a different level. Many of these young people look forward to coming to school because it is here that they get the most support.
Many teens are broken today because their families are broken, and these kids don’t have any positive role models other than their teachers and others in the school setting.
Remember this: You don’t need to be a mental health professional to save a child’s life. You simply need to care, and that’s why we are in education in the first place. As teachers, it’s about the students first and our subject areas second.
Over years as a mental health speaker and suicide prevention expert, I have come to realize that our youth want help but they don’t know how to ask for it. The signs are there, and these signs can be considered calls for help and intervention. We have to notice them and have the courage to reach out.
I’ve also met a lot of parents that don’t know what to do, but they’re well aware something isn’t right.
Doing this for more than two decades, I’ve learned that fear stops parents and educators from taking action: Fear of how to ask. Fear of not wanting to know more because we think we won’t know what to do if we did know more.
It’s time to lose that fear once and for all.
By simply asking and showing that you care, you could be saving a person’s life. When you get more information and see red flags, it is then your responsibility to say something to a counselor, a doctor, the parents, or administrators.
Don’t NOT say anything. This is not the time for a sin of omission. You have critical information that calls for action.
Let’s focus on getting the individual to the person that can help them get the care they need.
The above VIDEO shows how I saved a young lady’s life after she came to me while I was visiting her school. We sat down and I showed her I cared and I understood the pain in her heart. I cared about her story. I invested in her. This wasn’t hard, but it took time, patience and a demonstration of support.
After I spoke to this young lady, we contacted her parents and they came into the school. I spent about an hour with both parents and the child, discussing my full assessment and their options. I made a strong recommendation based on what I thought this child needed. The parents agreed and moved forward.
In situations like this, a lot of parents seem to fight the idea of moving forward with a recommendation, instead chalking up their child’s situation to perhaps typical teen behavior, emotions running amok, acting out, or simple sadness. This is a mistake.
If you are an administrator, counselor, teacher, or an educator – you might ask, “Jeff, what happens if the parents don’t want to take the necessary steps?”
I plan on doing another video on that exact question, because it happens far more often than I care to admit – but if the assessment clearly demonstrates that a teen is at risk of doing themselves greater harm or harming others, the school has a responsibility to go over this with the parents and make contact with Child Protective Services or the Department of Health and Family Services.
Too many parents take this lightly. This isn’t something to take lightly. All signs need to be taken seriously and acted upon.
Before a teen comes back to school, they should have a letter from the doctor supporting a return to school. This protects the school from liability and helps to put everyone at ease – knowing that the student received the proper care from a mental health professional and has been given the tools to solve problems and to cope. The letter should also state that there is a plan in place moving forward for the teen.
If you are interested in having me come to your school for teen motivation, teen mental health, or to be proactive and give your teens a motivational assembly, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I enjoy full-day events where I speak to teens, teachers, parents, and the community.
Thank you for watching the video and sharing it with teachers and counselors. Together we are saving lives and giving hope to our teens in need.