Nearly all research agrees: peer support plays a huge role in suicide prevention. Jan Daniels, suicide prevention and youth development coordinator at the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, informs parents and professionals about a school-based suicide prevention program.
Daniels says that it is important for children to talk to trusted adults in school and at home; however, parents and professionals must be proactive to catch the warning signs and help adolescents navigate this phase of life.
On how the SOS Signs of Suicide program trains students
SOS Signs of Suicide goes to area middle schools and facilitates the prevention program. Facilitators teach students what to listen for and what to look for in their peers and in their family. They also teach students are how to react and what to do if they know someone who's fighting depression or thinking of suicide.
Trainings are usually held during P.E. time in a classroom setting. The trainings consist of questioning, answering, and talking accompanied by a great training video.
On how adolescents respond to suicide awareness
A lot of students ask what to say to someone who’s needing help, or what to do if an adult doesn’t listen the first time they tell them they know someone who’s feeling depressed. The most important thing you can tell them is to go to a trusted adult. If you don’t get what you want from the first person, go to the second person.
On how adolescents can recognize behavior and mood changes
The video used to guide the screening is age based. It talks about being dramatic, having trouble with parents, failing grades, and how things can explode if you don’t take care of them. It instructs children on what to do if they see someone that’s reacting on social media or in regular communication.
During the screening, there’s a section that allows children to reflect on the changes they’ve gone through in the past year. It’s amazing how many hands go up with simple changes such as moving to a new neighborhood or having trouble at home. We want them to be equipped with the skills of how to handle certain situations and feeling that they’re going through.
If, for any reason, children or parents don't have access to suicide prevention programs, we always refer them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. That number is 1-800-273-TALK.