The number one priority for all AISD teachers and principals is the safety and well-being of our students. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is among the five leading causes of death for teenagers, and it’s critical to us that our school community can understand and identify the risk factors and warning signs.
Not to be confused with warning signs, risk factors are a person’s characteristics that may make them more likely to commit suicide. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, these may include the following:
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety and certain personality disorders
- Alcohol and other substance abuse disorders
- Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illness
- Family history of suicide
- Loss of relationship
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media)
If you feel you may know someone with these risk factors, there are actions that can be taken to help prevent a suicide attempt. Try to find out if the person has access to effective clinical care interventions for dealing with mental, physical or substance use disorders. It’s also important to ensure the victim feels they have strong family or community support in dealing with their problems. These steps may be critical in preventing harmful behavior.
Often times victims of suicide have shown signs of being at risk before the suicide occurs. Seek help immediately if you or someone you know has experiences the following behaviors:
- Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing drug or alcohol use
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Unusual sleeping patterns—sleeping too much or too little
- Withdrawal or isolation from others
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
In addition to family or friends, AISD counselors, child study system professionals and the district's crisis response team, which is composed of licensed social workers and clinically licensed counselors, are trained and prepared to provide support for students during their school day. If you feel you have experienced these warning signs or risk factors, or if you know someone who has, it’s important to report those actions as soon as possible to someone who can help. Knowing these risk factors and warning signs may help prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future.
You can also receive support from the hotlines below:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Austin Travis County Integral Care
For more information, call the AISD Learning Support Services department at 414-9921.