cALL 800-273-8255 or
text "sos" to 741741
Get Everyone Involved
Students will understand what suicide is
Special Note: It is imperative that you invite several Community Resource Professionals such as a Crisis Specialist or Mental Health Professional to aid in the presentation of this subject matter. This lesson plan in its entirety should be shared with these individuals PRIOR TO addressing your group. Make sure that you have a plan and immediate means for providing assistance to a student needing help.
Icebreaker/Introduction Activity: Overwhelmed!
Note: The facilitators should practice this short activity before presenting it to the group. Facilitator 1: Begin by introducing yourself. Then place one cup upside down on a table in front of you and say Today I will be represented by this cup. I am this cup. Then continue on to mention the following statements. Each time you mention a new statement, try to add another cup to the top of the cup, in the opposite direction so that it is stacked. At some point, the cups may begin falling off but just keep trying to pile them on:
Follow-Up: Facilitator 2: In this short activity, we got to see first-hand what happens to people who feel as though they cant deal with everything that is coming at them. School work, friends, families, and all the stresses that come with these things can really leave you wondering how you can handle everything and stop the pain. Today we will be learning about suicide. We will be discussing possible warning signs, prevention methods, how to respond in a potential suicidal situation, who to talk to, and where to get help.
Activity: Each One Teach One
Prior to the class, take the Every One Teach One Facts handout (Activity CM12-1) and cut it into individual fact strips. Distribute them among members of the class or group. Repeat facts for larger groups. Instruct the group to do the following:
If there are no questions, start the activity. Watch and monitor participants to see if everyone has shared a fact with at least a few people before signaling to end the activity by raising your hand and waiting for the group to join you.
Once the group has rejoined, engage the group members in discussion by asking:
Mention to the group that although most of us do think about suicide at some point, the majority of people choose life because they realize the situation they are having a problem with is temporary. It is also important to highlight the fact that if you or someone you love is thinking about suicide, there are a number of resources that can help.
Activity: Warning Signs
One of the facts we learned in our last activity was that: Nearly everyone at some time in his or her life thinks about suicide. If this is a somewhat normal feeling, how can we know when one of our friends is really in trouble? How do we know when we should get help?
Today we will take the Suicide Self-Warnings Quiz (Activity CM12-2). Please listen as I read the questions aloud for you. This quiz is just for your information and your information only. Answers will not be shared out loud.
Read each question on the quiz aloud slowly. After the group takes the quiz, review some of the other warning signs below. End this section of the lesson plan by stating. If you answered yes to any of the quiz questions or notice some of the warning signs we discussed in yourself or someone else, than you should seek help from a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, counselor, police officer, etc.
Other warning signs to discuss include:
Activity: Suicide Scenarios
Perform one or both of the Suicide Scenarios: Suicide Scenario-Calvin (Activity CM12-3) or Suicide Scenario-Sam (Activity CM12-4).
Discussion Questions: Ask the following questions of the group. After each question is a possible answer for each scenario.
1) Does this young person remind you of anyone you know?a. Calvin: Most schools have a Calvin that is picked on and cant seem to get a break.
Activity: Codes of Silence
Most family members, professionals, and friends of someone who is suicidal are often asked to not tell someone or to not make a referral. This is mostly because they are anxious, depressed, feeling hopeless, and alone.
The facilitator for this activity should share this with the group by saying: It is very common for those who are thinking about committing suicide to request secrecy from anyone they talk to about their suicidal thoughts or plans. Often, suicidal plans are discussed with others but they also keep them secret. When something is this serious, why do you think friends of people who have shared they are suicidal keep it secret?
Answers may include:
The facilitator MUST let the group know that 9 out of 10 adolescents who commit suicide give clues before the suicide attempt.1 STAYING SILENT is a significant factor in suicide fatalities and can be avoided if you share the information with a trusted adult. It is much better to have a friend who is alive and mad at you for sharing something they asked you to keep secret than to have lost a friend forever to suicide.
Action Plan/Next Steps:
Facilitator: Ask the group What are ways that we can cope with feeling overwhelmed. Record their answers on flip chart or board.
Ask students what they can do if a friend talks to them about suicide. Share with them that they should ACT:
Distribute the Suicide Prevention Brochure (Activity CM12-5). Review information with participants.
Wrap-Up Activity: Overwhelmed Take Two
Facilitator 2 (same person as in the beginning of the session): Lets revisit our friend who was 0feeling overwhelmed earlier.
Facilitator 1: Begin by introducing yourself. Then place one cup upside down on a table in front of you and say Today I will be represented by this cup. I am this cup. Then continue on to mention the following statements. Each time you mention a new statement, someone will come to offer support for the issue at hand.
Follow-Up: (Option: Have the folks who came up to provide support sing Lean on Me happily!). Facilitator 2: Tell the audience that there will be times in our lives that things can become overwhelming whether they are problems with relationships, school, work, or everything at once. It is important that we surround ourselves with support systems friends, teachers, family members that care. Know where you can get help for yourself or a friend and remember it is extremely import ant to seek help for a friend in need. Afterwards, ask if anyone has comments or questions. Introduce your Community Resource Professionals and reiterate to the group that help is on hand if anyone would like to speak with them.
Language Arts: Encourage students to try journaling or writing poetry to let go of their feelings and reflect on their lives.
Social Studies: Have students think about all of the things throughout the world that demonstrate life is good. Students can then make presentations on why it is good to be alive.
Healthful Living: Review what is involved in a healthy lifestyle, including physically, socially, and psychologically. Discuss the importance of remaining healthy, especially when you are facing difficult situations. Have students brainstorm ideas of how to stay healthy when stress is high and situations seem overwhelming.
Art Education: Have students think about someone they know at school who might need a pick me up. Have each student make a humorous card to brighten their selected students day.
Opportunities for Parental Involvement:
Share the Suicide Prevention Brochures (Activity CM12-5) with parents so they can be aware of things to watch out for in their children and in their childrens friends.
Everyone Teach One Facts
1) Adolescent suicide is an increasing problem in the U.S.1
2) Females attempt suicide more frequently than males (3:1); however males complete suicide more frequently than females (4:1) .1
3) Most teens who are experiencing active suicidal ideation will admit their plans to someone who is concerned and asks about their distress. 1
4) Suicidal threats, preoccupation or behavior must always be taken seriously. 1
5) Adolescent suicide is a threat to young people of every race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.1
6) Over 90% of suicidal adolescents give clues to others prior to their attempt.1
7) Studies have shown that, among parents of children found to have suicidal ideation; up to 86% of parents were unaware of their childs suicidal risk.1
8) For every completed youth suicide it is estimated 100-200 attempts are made.1
9) Each day there are approximately 12 youth suicides. A person under the age of 25 dies by suicide every 2 hours, 11 minutes.1
10) It is likely that three students (one boy and two girls) within a typical high school classroom have made a suicide attempt in the past year.1
11) Research has shown that most adolescent suicides occur after school hours, in the teens home.1
12) Adolescent suicide is a major health problem, however, a great deal is known about the risk factors and underlying causes which can guide prevention efforts.1
13) Suicide ranks third as a cause of death among young (15-24) Americans. Only accidents and homicides occur more frequently.2
14) Mental health diagnoses are generally associated with a higher rate of suicide.2
15) Socially isolated individuals are generally found to be at a higher risk for suicide.2
16) Research has shown that the access to and the availability of firearms influences significant increases in rates of youth suicide.2
17) One in 12 college students has made a suicide plan.2
18) Not all adolescent attempters may admit their intent. Therefore, any deliberate selfharming behaviors should be considered serious and in need of further evaluation.2
19) Most adolescent suicide attempts are triggered by interpersonal conflicts. The intent of the behavior appears to be to effect change in the behaviors or attitudes of others.2
20) Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal individuals desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.2
21) Most suicidal individuals give definite warnings of their suicidal intentions, but others are either unaware of the significance of these warnings or do not know how to respond to them.2
22) Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.2
23) Approximately 32,000 Americans kill themselves every year. The number of suicide attempts is much greater and often results in serious injury.2
24) Nearly everyone at some time in his or her life thinks about suicide. Most everyone decides to live because they realize that the crisis is temporary, but death is not.2
25) If you know someone who is talking about suicide, take them seriously. Ask them if they are thinking about suicide and be willing to listen to their response. Know that there are resources where you can seek help and take action to get help for this person.2
26) Dont promise someone who may be talking about suicide that you will keep their intentions secret; you must seek support for them.2
27) Surviving family members not only suffer the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide, but they may also be at higher risk for suicide and emotional problems.2
28) Some people who dont know how to cope may engage in self-injury. One type of self-injury is called cutting or injuring yourself on purpose by making scratches or cuts on your body with a sharp object.3
29) If you are struggling with problems, make sure you tell someone you trust whats going on so you can get help figuring out what to do about the problems you are facing. Surround yourself with people who are caring and positive.3
30) Dont be afraid to seek professional help if you are getting down and depressed, if you dont have a strong support network, or feel you cant cope.3
31) Friends are often in a good position to recognize teens at-risk of suicide and must involve others when trying to help prevent a suicide.4
Suicide Self-Warnings Quiz
Answer the following questions to see if you, or someone you know, are displaying suicide warning signs.
1. Do you talk about death and dying
If you answered yes to any of the questions, for yourself or someone else, than you should seek help from a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, counselor, police officer, etc.
Narrator: This is Calvin. He is depressed and has been thinking about taking his life. He has a hard life at school. A certain young man named Josef picks on Calvin and takes poor Calvins lunch away as seen here
Josef: Hey four eyes!
Calvin: Who? Me?
Josef: Yeah you! Give me your lunch money!
Calvin: No, Im really hungry!
Action: Josef proceeds to beat up Calvin
Narrator: As you have seen, Calvin does not have a very good school life, but his home life is even worse as seen here .
Dad: What happened to your face? (drunk)
Calvin: Nothing... nothings wrong. (trying to hide his face)
Dad: Learn how to be a man! I cant believe this! You cant admit that you were in a fight? You are such a pansy. If your mom was still alive she probably wouldnt believe it either!
Calvin: I hate you!
Narrator: That night at 10:36 pm Calvin took his own life.
Narrator: Each one of us may know a Calvin in our lives or maybe you are experiencing thoughts of self hurt like Calvin. Each one of us can help be a true friend and provide a listening ear. Dont be afraid to talk to a parent, counselor or other trusted adult if you are considering hurting yourself or know of someone who may be suicidal.
Narrator: Once there was a girl named Sam, she was very successful in school and she was liked by everyone. But at home things weren't going so well...
Father: Get away from me; I don't want to see you right now!!!
Mother: You know what? Thats it; I'm tired of you yelling at me like I'm nothing!
Who do you think you are?!
Action: Father swings his hand and slaps Sam's mom
Sam: You Monster! Why did you do that??!!!!
Father: You stay out of this, you little Brat! This is between me and your mother!!!
Sam: No! I'm not going to let you touch her anymore!
Action: Sam's father grabs her and throws her across the room.
Narrator: This has been going on for a few months now. Sam does not know what to do. She can't find a way out of this trauma.
Sam: How could you! Why are you treating us this way!!!??? Sam cries.
Father: I warned you to stay out of this and this is what you get!
Action: Sam's father continues to beat her mom.
Action: While still crying, Sam gets the strength to get up and walk away. She goes to the kitchen and gets a knife.
Narrator: You could still hear her parents fighting. Then she makes the drastic decision to end her life...
Each one of us may know someone like
Sam or maybe you are experiencing thoughts of self hurt.
Each one of us can help be a true friend and provide
a listening ear. Dont be afraid to talk to a parent,
counselor or other trusted adult if you are considering
hurting yourself or know of someone who may be suicidal.
Prevention Fresh With Classroom Activities
Each of the games requires the students participation, and encourages discussion. They teach students about the signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation and the best ways to respond and do so in an engaging, non-threatening way.
Middle School: The Categories Game
This game takes about 30 minutes, and involves breaking up the class into groups of four to six students, and the task of the students is to determine what a list of things has in common. The facilitator will read a list with items such as:
These are all, of course, things you should not do when someone expresses symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts. There are five different categories and each category has six lists, so there is enough to fill an entire 30-minute lesson block.
Middle School: Connections Game
This game is similar to Apples to Apples, and allows the facilitator to play the game as a whole class, or by breaking the class up into teams of four to six students. Students receive descriptor cards and the person in the group serving as the judge (or the class facilitator) chooses a noun card, and each of the players choose descriptor cards that they think matches best. For example, a facilitator may say the term text messages, and the students playing choose from their cards the most applicable descriptors that match the noun. The idea is that there are no right or wrong answers, but that the students defend their choice and explain how their descriptor matches the noun. This is a great way to encourage dialogue about the topics at hand.
Middle School: Lights, Camera, ACT
This game involves role playing and presents a selection of scenarios that students can act out. The goal of the exercise is to help students develop and practice effective ways to handle situations that involve being concerned for a depressed or suicidal friend. The implementation guide includes Dos and Donts to tell the students before the roleplaying, so that you start them off in the right direction. Below is one scenario.
Its the end of the school day, and Shawn is talking to Marcus about the upcoming weekend. They usually make plans to hang out and play basketball on Saturdays with some other guys, but Marcus hasnt shown up for the last couple months. Shawn asks Marcus about it, but he becomes annoyed and angry and tells him to just back off. Shawn thinks its strange considering Marcus is typically energetic, happy and always is always up for shooting hoops.
High School: Scripts for Suicide Prevention Hotline
These scripts are a really fun activity, and are especially helpful because students can really apply what is going on in their own community. After facilitators teach the students about the warning signs of depression and suicidal thoughts, and the ACT acronym (acknowledge, care, tell), pairs of students create scripts and talk out a call to a suicide prevention hotline. As your students hear the warning signs, its a great way to reinforce the lessons they have already learned.
High School: Myths and Facts Quiz
This quiz is very powerful and really challenges students beliefs about suicide and depression among teens. You can involve the students in any way you want, whether you discuss the myths and facts included in the implementers guide, or you pass out sheets and students read them and choose whether something is a myth or fact.
Of course, every school and community
is different. If you have an SOS program and have any
questions or comments about the games, feel free to contact
us at anytime at CBiggs@MentalHealthScreening.org
No Name-Calling Week
Get Administrative Support
School leaders will likely want to support a program aimed at improving the health and safety of all students. Still, they might have concerns about whether the program will detract from required curriculum, how much work it will require from faculty and staff, and whether an anti-bullying program is even necessary at their school. Consider your vision for No Name-Calling Week at your school, and approach school leaders with a list of doable activities. Some ideas are class lessons and activities, student essay and poster contests, a school newspaper article, a library display, peer education sessions, educational events for staff and family members, a school assembly, and discussion/support groups for students.
Present data to school administrators that highlight a need for No Name-Calling Week in your school. Use statistics from reputable studies. Gather anecdotal evidence of bullying (be sure to not use names!) from faculty and staff. Point out that since bullying encourages absenteeism and lower academic performance in victims, addressing the problem will help maximize instructional hours and heighten student achievement in the future. Encourage colleagues and administrators to peruse the No Name-Calling Week sample lesson plans, which are heavily grounded in reading, writing, and critical thinking experiences that can be integrated into a variety of subject areas.
Classroom teachers can participate in No Name-Calling Week in a variety of ways. They can display posters and wear stickers to remind students of the week's message. In addition, they can make a commitment to read about ways to support students who experience bullying and intervene proactively. Teachers with limited planning time may want to screen the No Name-Calling Week video or read excerpts from The Misfits, which is included in the No Name-Calling Week Education Kit. Teachers who wish to be more involved can implement lessons from the resource guide, develop their own supplementary materials, and help plan school-wide events. Plan a presentation for teachers to share during a faculty meeting or voluntary after-school session, and share statistics on verbal bullying and its effects and information on No Name-Calling Week. Enlist grade or department leaders who can take responsibility for passing information along as you plan, or choose and area for posting updates in the faculty lounge.
Depending on the age and abilities of students, there are plenty of ways for students to make No Name-Calling Week an experience that resonates with young people. Asking for volunteers is a great way to initially involve students, as those who have been affected by verbal bullying might want to do something proactive about it. Make a morning announcement, ask teachers to make classroom pitches, and distribute information via student clubs to invite students to a planning session where ideas will be generated and tasks assigned. Students might be interested in creating posters to decorate halls and classrooms, conducting a student survey about bullying (link), helping to develop an anti-slur policy, participating in reading or discussion groups about bullying, and creating dramatic pieces for performance in school assemblies. There are more ways to involve students detailed in the resource guide.
Your school's guidance staff has experience and expertise in dealing with bullying and its effects, so take advantage of their knowledge. Counselors can be of service by facilitating an informational session for parents and family members, or by training support staff on proactive intervention methods. If counselors run discussion or support groups for students, they might want to consider name-calling as a topic for this week and beyond. Guidance staff can be encouraged to make classroom visits to discuss verbal bullying from a psychological angle, and can display posters in their offices to mark them as safe spaces for discussion.
Most bullying occurs outside the classroom, in places where support staff is often present - the hallways, cafeteria, schoolyard, locker room, and school bus. No Name-Calling Week provides a great opportunity to help support staff recognize problems caused by verbal bulling, and to act as positive agents in ending name-calling ask guidance staff to provide them with training. Encourage support staff to wear No Name-Calling Week stickers, and share the fact sheet for school personnel provided in the Resource Guide.
Ask library staff to provide support by wearing stickers, displaying posters, and creating eye-catching displays of titles that deal with bullying. The bibliography provided in the resource guide offers a comprehensive list of titles that handle the subject realistically and open opportunities for thought and discussion, some of which you might add to your library.
Physical Education Staff
Since much bullying occurs in the locker room and on the playing field, No Name-Calling Week is a great time for physical education teachers to explore the concept of sportsmanship with their students, and to promote sport and exercise as an opportunity to build community and improve health. Ask athletic staff to plan noncompetitive, team-building activities, and to reinforce rules of conduct that promote positive behavior. Place a special emphasis on prohibiting names that disparage students who are not athletically inclined, and encourage rituals and language that promote self-esteem (e.g., high fives and "nice try").
Family members play an integral role in shaping children's attitudes towards name-calling. There are plenty of ways for them to both help make the week a success, as well as benefit from educational opportunities. Plan a homework activity that requires involvement from family members, and send a copy of the bibliography from the resource guide home with students with a note encouraging them to borrow the titles from the local library. Ask the PTA to do fundraising for school-wide events, and get volunteers to run an after-school poster-making workshop for students. Give parents and guardians an opportunity to learn about name-calling at a family event featuring a guidance counselor or outside mental health professional. Finally, share the resources for families provided in the resource guide, which include information on what to do if your child is being bullied and how to talk to educators about bullying. Outreach to family members should begin with a note from the principal or a guidance counselor introducing them to No Name-Calling Week, and suggesting ways in which they can be involved.
Assign point persons to spearhead the school assembly, family event, and staff training. Vary the format at these events: combine words from a guidance counselor with readings of winning contest essays and dramatic performances or a film screening at the assembly. Family members and staff should have opportunities to speak about strategies they've used to support victims and intervene in name-calling.
Build momentum as you approach No
Name-Calling Week by sending out email updates, featuring an
article in the school newspaper, sharing information during
morning announcements, and displaying posters and flyers.
Choose a bulletin board for posting updates, as well as the
winners of essay and poster contests, and spruce up the
library with an attractive display.