Self-Harm/Suicide Management

What it is

An area of student need involving thoughts, feelings, statements and/or actions of harming or killing oneself.

Strategies

For immediate concerns to student safety:
• Do not leave the student unattended/alone. This may mean that he/she is not released from school at dismissal time and would need to wait for parents/health care supports (e.g. 911) to arrive.
• Communicate situation with other staff and follow the Safety Plan, if there is one. Develop a safety plan if on is not already in place.
• Ensure that the student does not have access to items that they could be used to self-harm (pills, knives, blades, pins, rope, etc.).
• Be supportive and nurturing to the student. Ask directly if they are thinking of suicide and provide your factual reasons for asking this. Don’t fear that using this word will make them think of it or act on it.
• Ask the student if they want to talk and employ active listening techniques where the student’s comments are parroted back for clarification.
• Ask they student if they would like to talk about other topics that may help them feel better (e.g.: favourite hobby)
• Ask the student if they’d like to do a preferred activity (e.g.: listening to music, surfing the net, etc.)

Teaching Strategies

Instructional

• Develop a Safety Plan with the student, other teachers, administrators and parents. Consider the amount of time out of class and the procedures to ensure student safety.
• Involve Child and Youth Workers, Social Workers, Guidance and/or psychology staff for support.
• Develop an Alternative Program Plan to help the student work on building self-esteem and worth.
• Develop a positive rapport with the student.
• Reinforce positive skills and attributes of the student in authentic situations with specifics.
• Maintain student privacy from other students.

Environmental

• Ask the student where he/she would like to sit, to feel the most comfortable and supported in learning.
• Ask the student ahead of group work to find a student grouping that they’d be comfortable and productive in.

Assessment

• Regularly conference with student privately to reinforce positives and provide an opportunity to make additional accommodations for him/her to be successful.
• Give the student advance notice of tests.
• Allow extra time for tests and assignments.
• Offer a different testing location to support anxiety management.



Resources
• Cutting

Kids Health Organization

Risk factors

Understanding, identifying and responding to needs of students who may be suicidal. A variety of additional resources by links.

Six ways for teachers to respond to the warning signs. Additional resources listed too.

Helping students and protecting the larger school community