Include Suicide Prevention Education in Curriculum

Due to the prevalence of adolescent suicide, school districts nationwide are beginning to require teaching about suicide in the curriculum. Greater than half of all schools teach about suicide prevention. More prevention education is needed.

Since adolescents spend a great amount of time in school, the school can serve as an ideal venue for prevention education. Most adolescents who are suicidal will tend to show suicide warning signs to others, including their peers. In addition, peers are the individuals who adolescents most often turn to in confiding their feelings and problems. Thus, all students should be aware of suicide warning signs and appropriate steps to take when a friend shows signs or states that they are contemplating suicide.

Many school professionals fear that teaching about suicide prevention provides students with ideas and methods about killing themselves and therefore leads to increased suicide attempts. However, research studies show that when issues concerning suicide are taught in a sensitive and educational manner students tend to show significant gains in knowledge about suicidal warning signs and more positive attitudes toward help-seeking behaviors with troubled peers.

Suicide education provided in the curriculum provides adolescents with information regarding the signs and appropriate steps to take when a friend is suicidal. Students need to be educated regarding behavioral warning signs, verbal warning signs and stressful life events that place adolescents at elevated risk for suicide.

Suicide prevention education should also include information on protective factors and resiliency skills that can be bolstered to protect against suicide. Educational lessons on prevention that include emotional health promotion, resiliency building, stress management and effective interpersonal communication are essential to overall students’ health.

By including suicide education within the curriculum, schools are stating that suicide prevention is a priority. In addition, inclusion in the curriculum ensures that the information will be taught as opposed to “possibly being taught if there is time left.”