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Part 1: National Suicide Prevention Month and Its Importance

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 9/14/2022

Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or call 911 immediately.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for all ages, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and every September, we spread awareness through National Suicide Prevention Month.

Mental health has become an increasingly important topic in education over the past several years. In 2019, one in three high school students reported experiencing hopelessness or sadness, which is a 40% increase within a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in six children had a suicide plan in 2019, which is a 44% increase since 2009, and one in five students seriously considered suicide.

This month, we focus on awareness and prevention. The CDC outlines a few things schools can do to help prevent suicide and provide a safe environment for students and staff:

  • Link students to mental health services.
  • Integrate social emotional learning.
  • Train staff.
  • Support staff mental health.
  • Review discipline policies to ensure equity.
  • Build safe and supportive environments.

The Texas Education Agency also offers a list of programs school districts can use to train educators on suicide prevention.

One of the ways school districts are tackling the mental health crisis is by providing social emotional learning (SEL). The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments defines SEL as teaching the necessary skills and knowledge to understand and manage emotions as well as set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. According to the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, the inclusion of school-based SEL makes a positive impact on students’ success in not only school but also life overall.

The CDC also states that a feeling of connectiveness with school and family is the most important component in student mental health. This includes forming and maintaining strong relationships with friends and teachers.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or 988—along with its website—is a 24/7 service available for everyone. This lifeline connects people with skilled crisis workers who can provide support and resources that can help. Again, this service is available to everyone, including veterans through the Veterans Crisis Line, which is also 988.