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Suicide prevention

New York Teacher
Have you or someone you know been affected by suicide? Did you know suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States?

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. Timely intervention can avert this tragic and often impulsive act.

“Reducing the number of suicides requires the commitment of people in many sectors, including education,” says the Heard Alliance’s Toolkit for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention.

Suicide affects people regardless of gender, race, age or socioeconomic status. It’s challenging to pinpoint the reasons for the rise in suicide rates because the causes are complex. Depression, environmental stressors, substance use and addiction are among the contributing factors.

As educators, our awareness is particularly important. Every year, the union’s Victim Support Program visits schools in the aftermath of suicide. Stay vigilant for early warning signs and risk factors in our students and colleagues so you can help.

Warning signs:

  • Being depressed.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Experiencing mood swings.
  • 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 in crisis. Be sure to advise your school counselor or psychologist if you are concerned about a 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. For additional resources, visit Your well-being.

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.