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Suicide prevention

New York Teacher
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Each year there are many more suicides than homicides. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 25- to 34-year-olds and the third-leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds. Although older adults attempt to take their own lives less than those in other age groups, they have a higher rate of death by suicide.

Whatever the cause, suicide is a major public health concern.

There is no one specific trigger for suicide. Suicide affects people regardless of gender, race, age and socioeconomic status. It occurs when stressors outweigh a person’s coping mechanisms. We all need to be educated on this topic so we can recognize the warning signs in people around us.

As educators, our awareness of this issue is particularly important. The union’s Victim Support Program this year has visited seven schools in the aftermath of a suicide. We all must be vigilant about the behavior of students and colleagues and cognizant of the early warning signs and risk factors so we can identify and help those who may be at risk of suicide.

Warning signs:

  • Being depressed.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Experiencing mood swings (happy to sad).
  • Using more alcohol or drugs.
  • Giving away possessions.
  • Expressing thoughts of hopelessness.

Risk factors:

  • Psychiatric history.
  • Family history of suicide.
  • Prior suicide attempt.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Recent major medical diagnosis.

If you think anyone in your school community is at risk, seek a professional consultation immediately to assess the level of risk and discuss an action plan. Know who is on your school-based safety committee and what plan is in place for staff or students who are in crisis. Be sure to advise your school counselor or psychologist if you are concerned about a particular student. The union’s Member Assistance Program is a resource for all UFT members.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 and NYC Well at 888-NYC-WELL (888-273-8255) for free, confidential mental health support at any hour.

The UFT Member Assistance Program offers short-term counseling and outside referrals to help you deal with a wide range of issues. You can contact MAP by calling 212-701-9620 or by emailing Appointments and referrals are available Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 50 Broadway in Manhattan.

For additional resources, visit Your well-being.

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