Students hear about suicide prevention

Sixth-graders were told to tell a teacher or counselor if they think a friend is contemplating suicide.

"It's better to have them alive rather than not be around anymore," said Jodi Wass, counselor and a member of the Nevada Suicide Prevention Committee. "They usually don't want to die - they want to talk about it."

Students in Shana Kleckner's Minden Elementary School class listened to the counselor's advice May 25 on how to recognize if friends may be at risk of taking their own lives and how to help prevent it.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death of Nevada teens from 13-19 years old.

Nevada has the third-highest rate of suicide in the country - nearly double the national rate.

"We have to educate people at a younger age," said Wass about teaching elementary school students about suicide prevention.

Wass said presentations on suicide prevention usually started in middle school but that teens involved are younger.

"Stress in a sixth-grade world would be not fitting in, homework or school pressures, drug abuse or an invasion of privacy," she said. "We need to learn how to cope so things don't pile up."

Suicide could be triggered by stresses such as drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness or a drop in grades.

Family concerns - fighting, abuse, a death in the family, divorce - or social stresses such as school problems, peer pressure, bullying or a break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend could contribute to suicide.

"These could all be causes," said Wass. "The theme is some sort of loss - grades, loss of control, loss through death, loss of a relationship."

Students were given the skills to recognize warning signs for suicide: depression, isolation or loneliness, drug abuse, changes in behavior or a preoccupation with death.

Wass said the most important thing to do for a friend in distress is to listen to them.

"Show you care and listen to them," she said. "Let them tell you what's going on with them. Relief comes from talking to others about your pain.

"Ask the question, 'Are you going to kill yourself?' It's scary but you need to do it," said Wass. "Be a good friend."

It's important for someone who is feeling suicidal to get some help with the issues being faced. Getting the appropriate help can prevent them from becoming suicidal again.

Wass told the students to contact the people in their lives they know can help such as a parent, coach, teacher or school counselor, family doctor, a mental health hospital or hospital emergency room.

Suggestions for help are also at the Crisis Call Center, (800) 922-5757 or the Crisis Hotline at 784-8090.

n Contact Sharlene Irete at or 782-5121, ext. 217.

Warning signs:

n Talks about suicide or has attempted it before

n Has trouble eating or sleeping

n Experiences major changes in behavior

n Loses interest in personal appearance

n Withdraws from friends, hobbies, school, work

n Plans for death by preparing a will or making final arrangements

n Gives away prized possessions

n Increase in use of drugs or alcohol

n Has had recent severe losses

n Shows sudden and unexplained improvement after a long period of depression

For more information:

Crisis Hotline: 784-8090

Crisis Call Center: (800) 922-5757 or (800)-SUICIDE

Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program: or (303) 429-3530


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