Educate School Faculty and Staff on Warning Signs

Effective school-based suicide prevention programs identify students at risk for suicide. Therefore, school professionals (teachers, principals, nurses, counselors, and school staff) should be educated about the warning signs to youth suicide. School professionals believe addressing students’ mental health needs is part of their role and that identifying students at suicide risk is one of the most important things they could ever do within the school. Nevertheless, a sizeable percentage of school professionals do not feel confident in identifying suicide warning signs.

Training on warning signs and risk factors is needed. School professionals who work at a school that has offered a recent in-service on suicide prevention are four times more likely to feel confident in identifying at-risk students. Ongoing faculty and staff in-services addressing suicide warning signs should be delivered. In this manner, at-risk students can be more quickly identified and receive the help that they need.

Schools should provide annual in-service trainings to faculty and staff regarding suicide warning signs and risk factors. Such trainings will ensure that professionals in the school are current and up-to-date regarding adolescent suicide.

School professionals need to be aware of common warning signs to adolescent signs. Suicide warning signs include behavioral warning signs, verbal warning signs and stressful life events. Listed below is a table providing examples:


Behavioral Warning Signs

Verbal Warning Signs

Stressful Life Events

Abusing alcohol or other substances    
Displaying irritability “Don’t worry about me, I won’t be around much longer.” Experiencing recent disappointments (loss of job)
Experiencing sadness, unhappiness and crying spells “I am going to kill myself.” Experiencing changes in close relationships
Experiencing sudden weight loss or weight gain "I've had it; I don;t want to bother anyone with my troubles anymore." Having a serious illness or believing one is seriously ill
Giving away cherished possessions    
Having changes in school performance and grades “I can’t stand living anymore.” Having a previous suicide in the family
Having loss of energy or feeling fatigued “My family would be better off without me.”  
Having problems concentrating, remembering and making decisions “I’ve had enough; I’m ending it all.”  
Showing feelings of helplessness/hopelessness “I want to die.” Having previously attempted suicide
Showing feelings of restlessness and agitation “I don’t want to be a burden anymore.” Experiencing recent losses (death of a loved one)
Showing no interest in once pleasurable activities    
Talking persistently a lot about death or suicide (morbit ideation)    
Withdrawing and isolating from others