My Student Needs Help!

If you are concerned that your student may be thinking of self-harm or suicide, Teen Lifeline is here to support you. You can call us at 602-248-8336 (TEEN) or 800-248-8336 (TEEN)

If your student is in immediate risk for suicide, DO NOT LEAVE THE STUDENT ALONE. Stay with the student or find someone who can while you seek help. Alert your school’s counselor or call 911 or a local mobile crisis unit
(Maricopa County, Arizona: 602-222-9444.)

Do not let the student leave the school grounds if you are concerned about immediate risk.
Inform parents and follow your schools policies on keeping students safe.

As an educator, you are well positioned to observe your student’s behavior. You might have more day-to-day interactions with students then they do with their own parents or guardians. Because of this, it is very important that you learn the risk factors and warning signs, so that you may help a student who may be in immediate risk for self-harm or suicide.

Major ways to identify if your student is in mental or social distress include:

  • Any sudden or dramatic change affecting your student’s performance, attendance or behavior should be taken seriously:
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • An overall decline in grades
  • Decrease in effort
  • Misconduct in the classroom
  • Acting out or aggression
  • Unexplained or repeated absence or truancy
  • Excessive tobacco smoking or drinking, or drug (including cannabis) misuse
  • Incidents leading to police involvement and student violence.

Students exhibiting this behavior may be having thoughts of suicide that could ultimately lead to suicidal behavior.

If you notice these behaviors, you should:

  • Ask Questions: Research shows that asking someone if she or he is contemplating suicide will not increase the person’s risk. Instead, a person in mental distress is often relieved that someone is inquiring about the person’s well-being. Ask questions such as:
    • I’ve noticed you are going through a rough time right now. Do you feel like giving up? What does giving up mean to you? – Or be direct – Are you thinking about killing yourself?
  • Be Persistent: A student may become upset or deny that they are having difficulties. Be consistent and be sure that your student gets the help they need.
  • Be Prepared: If you feel your student is in danger of harming themselves, find out your school’s procedures and be able to explain them to the student. Typically you would:
    • Walk the student up to the school counselor
    • Make an introduction between the student and counselor
    • Tell the school counselor about the behaviors
    • If the student has disclosed suicidal intent, do not let the student leave the school grounds alone.
    • The school counselor should alert the school crisis team and arrangements should be made to carry out a thorough evaluation of the student
    • To learn more, please visit here.

Most importantly, do not promise confidentiality to a student when it comes to issues regarding the child’s safety. However, always talk privately with the student before letting others know of your concerns.

For more information on how you can help your students, contact Prevention Specialist, Morgan Phillips at morgan@teenlifeline.org. If you are in the Phoenix-Metro area, Tucson or Prescott, AZ, you can also request a classroom presentation.

If you need help in identifying your next steps, and you need someone to talk to, Teen Lifeline is always here for YOU, to listen and to help!

You’re not alone. 602-248-8336 (TEEN) and statewide in Arizona at 800-248-8336 (TEEN)