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Student Suicides 2006: Vol. 95 pg2

Student Suicides - 2006SAFER SCHOOLS NEWS-VOL. 95

Student Suicides


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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 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 per-planned decision tree. The complete program provides for the participation of everyone connected with the school.

Everyone becomes an observer, a select few become certified as “assessors” and fewer still become certified as “trainers.” The School Board and certified trainerAdministrators 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, child shotassessment, intervention and after action. This program will save lives.

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.

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If your school would be interested in implementing this program, please contact the staff at Keys To Safer through their Schedule a Training or Co-Sponsor a Training


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.

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