Provided by: School Community Intervention and Prevention, February 2020SCIP is funded in part by: Lincoln Public Schools, United Way of Lincoln/Lancaster County, Region V Systems, Nebraska DHHS: Division of Behavioral Health and Region 4 Behavioral Health System
Youth Suicide Prevention In Nebraska, suicide is the leading cause of death for ages 10-14. Nationally, suicide was the 2nd leading
cause of death for ages 10-24 in 2017 (10.6 per 100,000), according to a study completed by the Center f
or Disease Control and Prevention. This is a sharp increase (56%) from the steady suicide rate observed in
2000-2007 (6.8 per 100,000). These numbers are alarming, but there are ways to prevent youth suicide and
it all begins with awareness and education. Risk Factors There is not just one specific cause or predictor that would indicate whether or not a person is
contemplating suicide. Several factors increase the risk of suicide. Possible risk factors include:

  • Recent relationship loss; this may include the death of a loved one or a close friend moving away 
  • History of trauma or abuse; this may also include bullying or family violence 
  • Mental health or substance use concerns
  • Family history of suicide 
  • Lack of social support 
  • Lack of access to health care, including mental health treatment 
  • Access to lethal means 

Warning SignsThe presence of one or more of the signs listed below may indicate an increased risk of engaging in suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or feeling trapped
  • Appears withdrawn or isolated from friends or activities they once enjoyed 
  • Extreme mood swings or increased irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns 
  • Giving away possessions

It is important to note that a person may not directly say that they want to die or they want to attempt
suicide. They may say something like “The world would be a better place without me”. These feelings may
also be expressed through a note or social media post. These comments need to be taken seriously and
should not be kept secret. Encourage youth to talk to a trusted adult if they are concerned about something
a peer said or posted online. When a youth is displaying signs that they are contemplating suicide, calmly ask the person directly if they
are thinking about suicide. Listen to the individual, validate their feelings and provide emotional support
without judgment. Assure the person that they are not alone and that help is available. Do not leave the
person unsupervised. Contact the parents or guardians of the student and get help. The National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 (1-800-273-8255). The Lifeline is supported by crisis workers who help
talk through the present situation and can assist in locating resources.  If accessible, a suicide risk
assessment may also be completed to determine the level of risk.Connecting the student and their family to support is crucial. There are multiple options for families to
access treatment and support. Families may choose to meet with a therapist at a SCIP agency or find a
mental health agency on their own. A physician can offer recommendations and discuss medications
available. Depending on the severity of the situation, inpatient therapy may be necessary. Maintaining
open lines of communication between the school and parents will help ensure the safety of the student.
The schools can provide an extra layer of support by connecting the student to in-school supports, like a
mentor or support group. A regular informal meeting with an adult the student has a close relationship with
can also be helpful. Talking to a person that is contemplating suicide can trigger our own fears and emotions. Do not hesitate
to reach out for assistance and practice self-care.  The same applies to youth that want to help a peer. To learn more about how you can help prevent youth suicide, view the links below: your area behavioral health region about participating in a free QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer)
training. The mission of QPR is to save lives and reduce suicidal behaviors by providing innovative,
practical and proven suicide prevention training.  QPR training provides an overview of the warning signs
of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help. Find your regional contact
here: the SCIP Spring Conference, “Help, Hope, Heal: Finding Light Through the Darkness” on
March 27, 2020 in Lincoln, NE.


Mr. Mack