Having a death by suicide in your school can be tragic for everyone in the community. But even more tragic is when that suicide instigates subsequent suicides. This heart wrenching and dangerous phenomenon is known as suicide contagion, and there are ways that schools and communities can help prevent it.
Suicide contagion is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide. This exposure can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors. (US Department of Health and Human Services) After that first suicide happens, communities sometimes see an increase in suicides or suicidal behaviors.
SEL, or social and emotional learning, is essential, but its definition may not be easy to pinpoint. In the past, education centered around academic achievement – give students information and expect them to remember it. But times have changed. Our understanding of human beings has changed. And as a result, what we teach in school has, and still needs to, change. Enter Social Emotional Learning.
Friends mean a lot to the teens in your school. In fact, peer relationships are so important they are often referred to as the second family. And yet peer relationships can often be harmful in the life of a teen. Poor or dangerous relationships can lead to risky behavior, substance abuse, truancy, and worse. For teens, having the right friends can have a huge impact on where life leads. Continue Reading
Tylor blamed herself for everything wrong in her life and saw no hope for her future. She’d never been in trouble before, but she’d just gotten caught bringing marijuana to school and was suspended. As a result, she felt like everyone was disappointed in her, and she felt like she had irrevocably ruined all her dreams and plans for the future. She sat in suspension alone in her pain, seeing no way to recover. She blamed herself for everything wrong in her life. When she left school that day, she went into her basement and took her life. Protective factors could have made a difference in her story, and they can make a difference in your teens’ too.
Tylor’s story is not unique. Every day teenagers across the nation die by suicide, teens who should have lived and prospered, teens who deserved to be happy. Their deaths, these tragedies, impact families and communities forever. And whether anyone in your school has taken their life or not, you can be sure that suicide has had some impact on your teens one way or another. Continue Reading
After twenty-five years, the results are in. The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social and Emotional and Academic Development has released their report on a new type of education. An education that encompasses not only academics but also social and emotional learning. Continue Reading