Suicide threats and cases of bullying are among the most challenging aspects of your work as a school administrator. The impact on students, faculty and the greater school community cannot be minimized. In recent weeks, we have seen tragic cases of suicide hit close to home in certain areas of our state. Between 2012 and 2014, an average of 187 youths died by suicide each year according to data from the Ohio Department of Health. Students face a wide range of concerns that can substantially impact their abilities to learn and engage in school. Perhaps the most severe issue is that of depression accompanied by suicidal ideation. It is difficult to imagine a pain so intense that someone would consider taking his or her life — but stopping the pain is the goal.
We know that the safety of your students is a top priority. Talking with students about their suicidal thoughts or ideas is one of the best ways to understand the degree to which they are depressed or at risk. Many people incorrectly believe that talking with students about suicide will “put the idea into their heads.” However, asking students if they are feeling depressed or suicidal, in a non-judgmental way, shows them that someone else is interested in them and cares for them.
To help you assist your students, please find a list of resources designed to help educators learn the signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal behavior and ways to identify and make appropriate referrals. We especially want to draw your attention to a newly launched, statewide Crisis Text Line that provides Ohioans with a free, confidential service available 24/7 on all mobile devices. Simply text the keyword “4hope” to 741741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor.
Student suicide is a tragedy that touches everyone in a school. Thank you for the work you do every day to make students feel safe and cared about.
Superintendent of Public Instruction