A news report by John Keilman shows how some schools are trying to reduce teen suicide by increasing awareness about it and screening students:
The paper handed to each freshman at Oak Lawn Community High School recently was filled with blunt and uncomfortable questions. Had they lost interest in everything? Did they feel they weren’t as smart or good-looking as most other people? Were they thinking about killing themselves?
A squad of counselors stood by to interview those who, based on their answers, might have been struggling with depression or contemplating suicide. By the end of the day, more than 50 teenagers had come to see them.
Read the full article in the L.A. Times. As the article makes clear, it is not clear whether this type of initiative is really effective in reducing the suicide rate and there are significant privacy concerns to consider that require allowing students or their parents to elect not to participate.
That said, and as uncomfortable as it may be, I am generally in strong favor of teaching students about teen depressions, its signs, and what to do if they feel that they are depressed or that a friend is depressed.
If your teen’s school hasn’t provided information, feel free to download these 2001 handouts for teens from the National Institute of Mental Health: Let’s Talk About Depression. The articles are in the public domain and you can reproduce them and share them with others or use them in class to start a discussion.
I’ll be speaking at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) conference in National Harbor, Maryland. The conference meets April 25-28, 2011.
On April 26, I will be giving a talk with my colleague and co-author Sheryl K. Pruitt, M.Ed., E/T, “Basal Ganglia Spectrum Disorder: Recognition and Remediation.” And on April 27, I’ll be presenting, “Pitfalls in Behavior Intervention Planning When the ‘Behavior’ is a Neurological Symptom.”
I’ll also be available to sign books during the conference. If you are planning to attend, please come say hello.