Information about youth suicide prevention.

As we watch the local news programs and read the newspapers, we are alarmed as a school and a community by the recent teen suicides that have occurred.

Middle school counselors would like to remind parents of some of the risk factors and warning signs of suicide.

Warning signs of suicide:
• Talking or writing about suicide
• Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness
• Dramatic mood changes, including strong anger and rage
• Changes in personality
• Losing interest in most activities
• Changes in sleeping or eating habits
• Giving away prized possessions

Risk factors include:
• Mental illness and/or substance abuse
• Previous suicide attempts
• Firearms in the household
• Non-suicidal self-injury (cutting self or other high risk behavior)
• Exposure to suicide of friend or family member
• Low self-esteem

If you want to read more on suicide and suicide prevention, you might find the following websites helpful:
• American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org
• Society for the Prevention of Youth Suicide: www.suicidology.org/ncpys

If you are concerned that your child may be in danger of hurting themselves, please remember that help is available.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a 24-hour crisis line that provides counseling services. Their telephone number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

We are also fortunate to have local agencies trained in crisis intervention if you or your child is experiencing a crisis of any kind.

Among the local agencies are:
• Scranton Counseling Center: 348-6100
• Women's Resource Center: 346-4671
• Northeast Human Services: 282-1732

School counselors are available to discuss your concerns with you and assist you with referrals.

Free Screening:
Marywood University will be offering a free, public 10-minute depression screening on Thursday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at its Psychological Services Center as part of National Depression Screening Day.

Guidance Tip:
October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. The North Pocono Middle School has a Bullying Program which encourages students to be pro-active if they are being bullied or witness others being bullied. Discuss with your child the effects that this type of behavior can have on others. We all have a role in preventing bullying behaviors.