Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents and Educators


    The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offers this information to assist parents and educators in preventing youth suicide.

    If you or someone you know is suicidal, get help immediately via 911, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741). 

    Suicide is preventable. Youth who are contemplating suicide frequently give warning signs. Do not be afraid to ask about suicidal thoughts. Never take warning signs lightly or promise to keep them secret. 

    Certain characteristics are associated with increased suicide risk. Here are identified risk factors: 

    • Hopelessness
    • Non-suicidal self-injury (e.g., cutting)
    • Mental illness, especially severe depression, but also post-traumatic stress, ADHD, and substance abuse
    • History of suicidal thinking and behavior
    • Prior suicide among peers or family members
    • Interpersonal conflict, family stress or dysfunction
    • Presence of a firearm in the home

    There are protective factors that can lessen the effects of risk factors. These include family and peer support, school and community connectedness, healthy problem-solving skills, and access to effective medical and mental health services.

    Most suicidal youth demonstrate observable behaviors signaling suicidal thinking. Know the warning signs:

    • Suicidal threats in the form of direct (e.g., “I want to die”) and indirect (e.g. “I wish I could go to sleep and not wake up”) statements
    • Suicide notes, plans, online postings
    • Making final arrangements
    • Preoccupation with death
    • Giving away prized possessions
    • Talking about death
    • Sudden unexplained happiness
    • Increased risk-taking
    • Heavy drug or alcohol use 

    Youth who feel suicidal often do not seek out help directly; however, parents, school personnel, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to keep the youth safe. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:

    • Remain calm, nonjudgmental and listen.
    • Ask directly about suicide (e.g., “Are you thinking about suicide?”).
    • Focus on your concern for their well-being.
    • Avoid being accusatory (e.g., don’t say, “You aren’t going to do anything stupid are you?”).
    • Reassure them that there is help; they will not feel like this forever.
    • Provide constant supervision. Do not leave the youth alone.
    • Remove means for self-harm, especially firearms.
    • Get help! Never agree to keep suicidal thoughts a secret. Tell an appropriate care-giving adult. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to a school employed mental health professional.

    After a school notifies a parent of their child's risk for suicide and provides referral information, parents need to:

    • Continue to take threats seriously. Follow through is important even after the youth calms down or informs the parent "they didn't mean it."
    • Take action to get your child the necessary help. Utilize school supports if needing assistance on following through on referrals.
    • Maintain communication with school. After an intervention, the school will also provide follow-up supports. Your communication will be crucial to ensuring that the school is the safest, most comfortable place possible for your child.

    For additional guidance, visit the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

    If you or someone you know is suicidal, get help immediately via 911, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741). 

     Image result for national suicide prevention lifeline

    Access to Crisis Services

    For immediate access to routine or crisis services, please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225. GCAL is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year to help you or someone you care for in a crisis. GCAL professionals will:

    • Provide telephonic crisis intervention services
    • Dispatch mobile crisis teams
    • Assist individuals in finding an open crisis or detox bed across the State
    • Link individuals with urgent appointment services

    In addition, GCAL will help you to access a State Funded provider in your area in a non-emergency as well.

    A nationally accredited Health Care Call Center, crisis center, and partner in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Behavioral Health Link Crisis call Center is proud to operate the Georgia Crisis and Access Line.




    State officials (Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Kemp) have launched a new mobile application to support the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL), a 24/7 hotline offering free and confidential access to services for mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

     Key Points

    • GCALis staffed by caring professionals - including licensed clinicians - who are available 24/7 to address behavioral health crises, make referrals for treatment, and dispatch mobile crisis response teams.
    • GCAL provides free and confidential behavioral health crisis intervention and access to behavioral health services.
    • Anyone in Georgia can call, text, or chat with GCAL for help for themselves or on behalf of someone else at 800-715-4225 or via the My GCAL app. Callers actively experiencing a crisis can speak with live clinicians trained in de-escalation. When needed, GCAL can dispatch mobile crisis response teams to provide de-escalation on-site. GCAL information specialists can also provide referrals for treatment in a caller's area.
    • There may be a wait time for the calls and referrals.
    • If a student self-reports mental health crisis and has an identifiable school location, GCAL will notify school or district personnel for assistance with intervention. The Suicide Protocol should be followed in these circumstances.