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Grief Recovery Inc. Helping People Grieve and Grow 4622 Still Meadow Dr. Saginaw, MI 48603 (989) 249 - 4362. Perhaps the most valuable result of all of education is the ability to make ourselves do the things we have to do, when it ought to be done, whether we like it or not . Suicide.

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Grief recovery inc

Grief Recovery Inc.

Helping People Grieve and Grow

4622 Still Meadow Dr.

Saginaw, MI 48603

(989) 249 - 4362

Grief recovery inc

Perhaps the most valuable resultof all of education is the ability tomake ourselves do the things wehave to do, when it ought to be done, whether we like it or not



  • Suicide is NOT about death

  • Suicide IS about ending pain

Suicide statistics

Suicide Statistics

Recent statistics

Recent Statistics

  • 14 teens complete suicide every day in the U.S. (X by 4.5)

  • Suicide is a common thought to 62% of U.S. Adolescents

  • The 10 to 14 age group has increased 567% since 1952

  • The 10 to 14 age group has increased 120% since 1980.

  • Within a typical classroom, it is likely that 3 students (one boy and two girls) have made a suicide attempt in the last year.

  • Up to 60% of high school students report having suicide ideation

  • Source: Mich. Assoc. of Suicidology, Oct. 1997

Female risk of suicide by grade level

Female Risk of Suicide by Grade Level

Risk by gender

% Risk by Gender

National statistics

National Statistics

  • A school of 2,000 students experiences a completed suicide on average every four years

  • For every 9 females to attempt, one completes

  • For every 4 males that attempts, one completes

  • Only 5% of all suicides are mental health patients

  • What we need to teach our students and staff to do is to encourage each other

  • 98% of the time, healthy students will not kill themselves just because a friend does. The students at risk are the students who were at risk before the incident occurred.

    • Students abusing alcohol and other drugs

    • Students who are being abused/family stress/series of frustrating events

Developmental assets grades 6 12

Developmental AssetsGrades 6 - 12

  • Low – 14% of children have 0 – 10 assets

  • Avg – 62% of children have 11 – 20 assets

  • High – 20% of children have 21 – 25 assets

  • Excep – 4% of children have 26 – 30 assets

The power of assets against risk taking behaviors

The Power of Assets Against Risk Taking Behaviors

Suicide in the middle school

Suicide in The Middle School

  • Nearly one in three 7th and 8th graders has seriously thought about suicide

  • In regards to adolescent suicide, females in 8th grade (43%) are most likely to have seriously thought about killing themselves

  • In regards to adolescent suicide, 8th grade females are most likely to make a plan for suicide

  • 14% of 7th and 8th graders report that they have tried to kill themselves

  • In the past twelve months, 3% of Maine high school students made a suicide attempt that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or overdose that required treatment by a doctor or nurse

  • Source: health Risk behavior Among Maine Youth, spring 2000

Myths about teen suicide

Myths About Teen Suicide

  • Youth who talk about suicide rarely attempt it

  • Talking about suicide will make it happen

  • The tendency toward suicide is inherited

  • Teenage suicides happen at night

  • Suicidal people leave notes

  • If a person want to commit suicide nothing can stop him/her

  • Once a teen has been suicidal he/she is never out of danger



  • Research shows that people who completed a suicide has told 2 to 4 people of their planned demise.

  • We must not be sworn to secrecy!!

Why don t we have suicide prevention programs

Why Don’t We Have Suicide Prevention Programs ?

  • I’m the only one in my school and/or community who is willing to learn about suicide

  • What if I don’t diagnose the student at risk ?

  • What if I mis-diagnose the student at risk ?

  • My administrator is afraid to deal with suicide

  • I am worried that if I discuss suicide with a suicidal student it will encourage him/her to commit suicide

  • The community doesn’t acknowledge that teen suicide is a problem

Native american suicide rates

Native American Suicide Rates

  • Tribes on reservations in the West and Northwest have suicide rates that are four times the national average

  • Tribes in the Midwest have suicide rates that are below their state averages

  • The youth suicide rate is overall about 1.5 times higher than national rate.

  • Men ages 15 to 24 account for 65% of all suicides among Native Americans

  • source: University of Minnesota, Kiosk Study

Suicide in african american youth

Suicide in African American Youth

  • Experts fear that if the alarming increase in suicide of Black American Youth continues, it will be the leading cause of death by 2003 of Black Adolescents

  • According to Dr. George Gaines of the Health Department of The City of Detroit: “there are unique causes”

    • “The slave experience/middle passage – engrained a hypertension into their culture’

    • “Double consciousness – African and American – two thoughts, two ways of life”

    • “Living with the struggle – Cultural depression. Because of past hurts and some times present hurts they experience

    • Most experts claim that two main reasons for Adolescent Black suicide in America are related to economic and living conditions

Latinos and suicide

Latinos and Suicide

  • Hispanics are a very diverse population. There are such great differences that it is hard to isolate symptoms different from other cultures.

  • However, a close study of the literature reveals two influential concepts, especially to Hispanics:

    • Religion – A sin against God

    • Family – Many have strong family systems

      Hispanics born outside the U.S. are at a lower risk

      Source: Dr. orlando Villegas, MAS Conference, 1998

Latinos and suicide1

Latinos and Suicide

  • According to the Southwest Detroit Hispanic Community: “As Hispanics Americanize, they become more vulnerable to suicide.” Research seems to suggest that they may be right.

  • A study conducted by the University of california shows that “the longer Hispanics are in the U.S., the more vulnerable they are to suicide.”

  • Basically they are coming from a strong family system to a country with a weak family system.

Latinos and suicide2

Latinos and Suicide

  • Religion and family are major factors in the prevention of Hispanic suicide. Dr. orlando Villegas states “this is true 99 out of 100 times.” However, if a Hispanic was suicidal, they would be rare if they:

    • 1. Talked to a friend

      • 2. Talked to a teacher

        The most likely people a Hispanic will talk to is:

      • A family member

      • Church clergy


Caution !

  • Practitioners must be careful to realize that ethnicity is a complex factor in determining suicide risk.

Suicide and the gay adolescent

Suicide and The Gay Adolescent

  • Most studies show that the Gay Adolescent is 2 to 3 times more likely to make a suicide attempt

  • Some studies claim that they are 5 times more likely to make a suicide attempt

  • It is reported that 30% of Gay Youth who come to youth services are on prescribed medication for depression

  • 30% of Gay Youth who have come out of the closet have themselves reported making serious suicide attempts.

Our goals today

Our Goals Today

  • Recognize causes of suicide

  • Assess suicidal risk

  • Take general steps to help

  • Getting parents and the community involved

  • Understanding the suicidal person

  • Grief after suicide

  • Brain chemistry and the suicidal person

  • You can make a difference !!!

Social cultural factors

Social-Cultural Factors

  • More guns in U.S. households than adults

  • Western culture glorifies violence

  • 62% of men use guns to kill themselves

  • 40% of women use guns to kill themselves

  • 3 million children in U.S. are abused and neglected

  • 1 out of 4 women who attempt suicide have been raped

  • Source: National Bureau of Statistics

Main causes of suicide

Main Causes of Suicide

  • Substance Abuse

  • Break up of the family

  • Depression

  • Feelings of insecurity

  • Illness

  • Broken love affairs

  • Economic conditions – poverty or wealth

Why are they thinking suicide

Why Are They Thinking Suicide ?

  • Relief from problems

  • End of a burden

  • Solution to problems

  • Revenge

How to recognize a potential suicide individual

How to Recognize APotential Suicide Individual

  • Poor self concept

  • Usually an antisocial isolate. They are introverted and become withdrawn

  • A drastic change of behavior

  • Usually will make open threats or lay clues for ending their life

  • Excessive use of alcohol or other drugs

  • Change in habits of appearance

  • Gives away prized posessions

  • Poor communications with family and friends

  • A history of prior acts of suicide

What to look for

What To Look For

  • Previous Attempts

  • Scratching or superficial cutting of the body

  • Themes of death or depression in writing, art, talk

  • Verbalization of intentions

  • Recent significant loss

  • Discord in home

  • Sudden decline of academic performance

  • Acute personality changes

  • Statements like “I’d be better off dead,” “nothing matters,” “I won’t be a bother to you much longer,” etc.

  • Feelings of hopelessness and rejection

Danger signs review

Danger Signs Review

  • Talking or joking about suicide

  • Statements about being reunited with a deceased loved one

  • Statements about hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness

  • Preoccupation with death. In the person’s music, literature, art, etc.

  • Writing letters or leaving notes referring to death or “the end”

  • Suddenly happier, calmer

  • Loss of interest in things once cared deeply about

  • Giving away prized possessions

Danger signs cont

Danger Signs Cont.

  • Unusual visiting or calling people one cares about - saying their good byes

  • Self destructive behavior (alcohol or other drug abuse, self injury or mutilation, promiscuity)

  • Risk taking behavior (reckless driving/excessive speeding, carelessness around bridges, cliffs or balconies, or walking in front of traffic

  • Having several accidents resulting in injury. Close calls or brushes with death. Obsession with guns or knives.

Suicide how we can help

Suicide: How We Can Help

  • Be a good listener

  • Evaluate the individual

  • Don’t suggest that they go and do it

  • Accept every feeling and complaint the person expresses

  • Don’t be afraid to ask the person directly

  • Beware of fast recoveries

  • Be supportive and affirmative

  • Seek further consultation

  • Help the person realize that a completed suicide is irreversible

  • Remind the person that depressed feelings do pass

  • Never leave the person alone in an acute crisis

Suicide assessment slap

Suicide AssessmentSLAP

  • S - How SPECIFIC is the plan

  • L - How LETHAL is the proposed method

  • A - Have they ACQUIRED the means or how AVAILABLE is the means

  • P - What is the PROXIMITY of helping resources when and where the person plans to attempt

Prevention tips

Prevention Tips

  • Remove guns from the home - less likely for students to act on impulse

  • Early detection of substance abuse

  • Family therapy for families experiencing multiple stressors

  • Upon signs of depression - evaluating for psychiatric disorder

  • Listen, Listen, Listen

How can i help review

How Can I Help ?Review

  • Be direct

  • Be willing to listen

  • Be non-judgemental

  • Get involved

  • Don’t dare

  • Don’t act shocked

  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy

  • Recognize your limitations

Do s and don ts review talking to a person in crisis

Do’s and Don’ts ReviewTalking to a person in crisis

  • Don’t

    • Sound shocked

    • Stress the shock on family and friends

    • Engage in a philosphical religious debate

    • Assume responsibility for a person’s actions

Do s talking to a person in crisis

Do’sTalking To A Person In Crisis

  • Do

    • Emphasize alternatives

    • Stay calm and understanding

    • Use constructive, open questions (how are you planning – open, are you thinking about killing yourself – closes)

    • Mention family as a source of support

    • Emphasize tackling problems one at a time

    • Develop a contract with the person

    • Emphasize that if he completes it, there is no second chance

    • Process all contacts with another counselor

Major recovery goals for the person in crisis

Major Recovery GoalsFor The Person In Crisis

  • Get the person to normal functioning as quickly as possible

  • Help them gain control

  • Help them establish a sense of equilibrium

  • Help the re-establish a sense of trust

  • Help them regain hope

Personal resource survey

Personal Resource Survey

  • Friends I can count on

  • Family members I can share with

  • Relatives I am comfortable with

  • School people who are supportive

  • Clergy I trust and talk to

  • Any other caring person

Helping those left behind

Helping Those Left Behind

  • Major Issues:

    • Rejection

    • Shame

    • Blame

    • Loneliness

    • Guilt

    • Anger

    • Trauma

Dealing with the survivors

Dealing With The Survivors

  • Our goal is NOT to make suicide acceptable, but to free the stigma surrounding those who must cope

  • AND

  • If the survivors choose, they don’t have to cope in silence

Grief reactions of survivors of suicide

Grief Reactions OfSurvivors Of Suicide

  • Shock

  • Denial

  • Guilt

  • Emotional Outburst/Irritability

  • Depression or Sadness

  • Anger

General guidelines for helping survivors of suicide

General Guidelines For Helping Survivors Of Suicide

  • Initiate Conversation – different grief

  • Don’t say “I know how you feel”

  • Listen non-judgementally

  • Let them know the death was NOT their fault

  • Provide grief information about suicide

  • Don’t let the survivors feel like they are alone

  • Let them know this will be a difficult time

  • Encourage them to be kind to themselves

Guidelines for helping survivors of suicide part 2

Guidelines For HelpingSurvivors Of Suicide Part 2

  • Don’t try to answer the question “why”

  • Recognize that survivors are often angry and you may be the recipient of their anger

  • Be aware of copy-cat syndrome

  • Inform survivors that the grief process is long lasting, averaging 24 months

Things to keep in mind for the classroom teacher when discussing a classmates suicide

Things To Keep In Mind For The Classroom Teacher When Discussing A Classmates Suicide

  • Encourage students to express their feelings

  • Try not to glamorize the act


  • Reinforce that suicide is a tragedy

  • Don’t allow someone to become bigger in death than they were in life.

  • Suicide does not solve problems, it causes them

  • Stress there is no second chance for a completed suicide

  • Take note of students unusually upset by this discussion. Make referrals if necessary

A few suggestions when working with survivors

A Few Suggestions When Working With Survivors

  • Keep a list of contacts

  • Let them cry

  • Don’t try to protect them – tell them “every thing will be okay”

  • Don’t try to “fix” the problem

  • Don’t tell them “its God’s will”

  • Don’t quote bible verses

  • Keep opinions about the completor being in Heaven or Hell to yourself

  • Remember, you don’t know how they feel

  • The survivors should not be told what to feel

  • Mention the completor by name

  • Know your limitations. Work in pairs if possible

Suggestions for survivors

Suggestions For Survivors

  • Structure your time, keep busy

  • Don’t label yourself as “crazy.” reassure yourself that you are normal and having normal reactions

  • Talk with others. Talking about it can help

  • Reach out. People do care. Spend time with others

  • If you choose to exercise, alter these periods with periods of relaxation

  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs

Suggestions for survivors 2

Suggestions For Survivors 2

  • Realize that your family and close acquaintances are also under stress

  • Eat regular meals, even if you don’t feel like it

  • Get plenty of rest

  • Give yourself permission to feel rotten. It’s normal

  • If you like to write, keep a journal to express your thoughts and feelings

  • Avoid caffeine. Remember, you need sleep and caffeine interferes with ability to sleep

Suggestions for survivors 3

Suggestions For Survivors 3

  • Don’t make any major life changes unless it absolutely must be made

  • Do appropriate things that feel good to you

  • Do make routine daily decisions. Regain control

  • Flashbacks are normal, don’t fight them. They usually decrease in time and become less painful

  • Maintain as normal a schedule as possible

  • Seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed. This is Not a sign of weakness

Suicide specific media policy

Suicide Specific Media Policy

  • Avoid providing specific details of method

  • Avoid romanticization of the suicide

  • Avoid descriptions as ‘unexplainable”

  • Avoid “simplistic” for the suicide

  • News stories concerning suicide should NOT be printed on the front page of any section of the newspaper

  • The word “suicide” should not be in the heading

  • The picture of the deceased should not be printed

Parent meeting after a student suicide

Parent Meeting After A Student Suicide

  • Set perimeters before the meeting concerning:

    effective parenting skills

    suicide prevention skills

    Don’t turn the microphone over to the public

    many people have personal agendas

    problems of different religions

    Keep the media out of the meeting ! ! !



  • Death from suicide

    • No announcement over the PA

    • No moment of silence

    • No school sanctioned tributes

    • Encourage close friends to celebrate life

      Source: Michigan Assoc. of Suicidology

Reasons why memorial services are not advised

Reasons Why Memorial Services Are Not Advised

  • A memorial service runs the real risk of glamorizing or romanticizing the suicide

  • Students who feel unimportant may come to believe that suicide is a way to become important

    • (Elder, 1995; Grollman 1990; Wilson Institute 1988)

      Memorials can serve to increase the attractiveness of suicide as a solution to problems (Catone et al, 1991)

Five basics of an appropriate letter to parents

Five basics of AnAppropriate Letter to Parents

  • Start out with sensitivity: “we are sad to announce”

  • Stress what the school is doing “The crisis team has activated a plan,” crisis rooms are set up and staffed by counselors for students and staff who may need extra help”Teachers have been trained and equipped with appropriate plans,”

  • Encourage parents to talk to their child and listen to his/her concerns

5 basics cont

5 Basics Cont.

  • Offer details about funeral arrangements or memorial services, and donations. Details about how the tragedy occurred usually are not appropriate

  • Encourage parents to call if the school can be of any further assistance

Stop and think

Stop and Think ! ! !

  • 10 seconds for each question

    • Name the 5 wealthiest people in the world

    • Name the last 5 Heisman Trophy winners

    • List last 5 winners of Miss America contest

    • Name 10 people who have won Nobel prize

    • Name last 6 Academy Award Winners for best actor and best actress

    • Name last decade’s worth of World Series winners

    • How did you do ? ? ?

The point

The Point

  • The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second rate achievers. They ARE the best in their fields.

  • But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Accolades and certifications are buried with their owners

Stop and think1

Stop and Think

  • Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

    • List a few teachers who aided your journey through school

    • Think of 5 people you enjoy spending time with

    • Name 6 heroes whose stories have inspired you

The lesson

The Lesson

  • The people who make a difference in your life are NOT the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.

  • They are the ones that most care !



  • “We can do no great things, only small things with great love”

  • Mother Theresa

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