Michigan Merit Curriculum

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Michigan Merit Curriculum

  • Strand 4: Social and Emotional Health
    • 4.2 Describe the warning signs, risk factors, and protective factors for depression and suicide.
    • 4.3 Identify and locate valid resources in one’s community and on the internet for information and services regarding depression and suicide prevention.
    • 4.4 Demonstrate how to seek help for self or others when suicide may be a risk.

Suicide Definition: The intention of taking one’s own life

  • Approximately 25% of high school students seriously consider suicide each year
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death from ages 15-24


  • People who are risk for attempting suicide tend to have one or more of the following characteristics:
    • Aggressive behavior
    • Perfectionist behavior
    • Feelings of hopelessness
    • Low self-esteem
    • Inadequate social skills
    • Mental disorders
    • Depression
    • Hidden anger


  • Abuse alcohol or other drugs
  • Have experienced the death of a parent, parental separation, or parental divorce
  • Feel alienated from family & friends
  • Are teased or rejected by peers
  • Have difficulty coping w/body changes & sexuality

Cluster Suicides

  • Cluster Suicides
  • Sometimes within a teen population, cluster suicides occur.
  • These are several series of suicides occurring within a short period of time and involving several people in the same school or community.
  • They account for 5% of all suicides in a year.
  • Some are the result of pacts or agreements between two or more people to take part in suicide.
  • Others result when individuals commit suicide in response to the suicide of a friend or a suicide that has been sensationalized in the media.


  • Adolescent boys have higher rate of completion
  • Adolescent girls have higher rate of attempts
  • Most in spring (March, April, May) (Monday)
  • Least in summer (June, July, August) (Saturday)
  • Use of firearms is increasing at higher rate than other methods
    • Account for dramatic increase in adolescent suicide rate
    • Most in home

Breakdown of Suicidal Warning signs

  • Verbal
  • Behavioral
    • Previous attempt is most serious & predictive signs
    • Any changes in behavior should be questioned
    • Setting one’s affairs in order
      • Making arrangement to be a donor
      • Giving away prize possessions


  • Situational
    • Loss of job
    • Loss of boyfriend or girlfriend
    • Fight w/ peers, especially best friend
    • Fight or serious disagreement w/parent
    • Chronic illness
    • Survival of illness w/ a disability
    • Move to new city
    • Academic failure
    • Being caught for a crime


  • Suicide threats, direct & indirect
  • Obsession w/ death
  • Poems, essays, & drawings that refer to death
  • Dramatic change in personality or appearance
  • Irrational, bizarre behavior
  • Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection
  • Changed eating or sleeping patterns
  • Severe drop in school performance
  • Giving away belongings
  • Sudden change in mood: sad to happy all of sudden
  • Self-Injury


  • Know suicide hotline numbers: National Youth Suicide Hotline: 800 621-4000
  • Know what to do when a person feels depressed
  • Help the person build a network of support
  • Get the person involved in rewarding activities
  • Know what to do if someone shows warning signs:


  • Do not ignore any warning signs or treat them lightly
  • Ask a responsible adult for help
  • Let the person know you care: be concerned & show respect
  • Listen & try not to be shocked by what the person says
  • Ask the person directly if she/he is considering suicide
  • Help the person think of better ways to solve problems
  • Identify other supportive people w/ whom the person can talk
  • Get professional help. Call a suicide hotline or school officials, the person’s parents & physician, clergy or police
  • Do not leave the person alone


  • Do not attempt to deal with the suicidal person alone
  • Do not allow yourself to be sworn to secrecy by the suicidal person
    • “..if someone is hurting you or if you plan to hurt yourself or others, I cannot promise..”


  • A: Acknowledge the signs of suicide (SOS) that others display & take the signs seriously.
  • C: Care: show that you care about what
    • happens to them & want to help
  • T: Tell: you need to tell a trusted adult
  • Dealing With A Suicide
  • When somebody you know commits suicide, it can be one of the hardest things to deal with.
  • Not only are you trying to cope with the loss of a friend, but you are also trying to cope with the fact that it was their choice.
  • Also, very few people leave letters, explaining the reasons for their actions, so chances are you are asking the worst question of all. Why?


  • One of the things you have to know is that you are not alone.
  • There are probably other people who are dealing with the loss as well.
  • The best thing you can do for yourself, and other friends, it to TALK ABOUT IT!


  • Talking is probably the best therapy, especially if it is with someone who is going through the same thing.
  • If you are having trouble coping, you should find someone to talk to.
  • The worst thing you could do is keep it all bottled up.
    • 4.4 Demonstrate how to seek help for self or others when suicide may be a risk.

Suicide & Depression

  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for people ages of 15 to 24 years of age.
  • Suicide rate has quadrupled in the last 40 – 50 years


  • 3. The risk of suicide may have increased dramatically from the access to more firearms at home. Nearly 60% of all suicides in the U.S. are committed with a gun.
  • 4. Suicide with a firearm has a 78 – 90% chance of fatality.
  • 5. Approximately 1/3 of all teens who commit suicide have made a previous attempt.


  • 6. It is uncertain how many suicide attempts there are for each suicide death. Different studies estimate a number between 10 and 20.
  • 7. Research shows that around 80 % of attempted suicides are preceded by clear warning signs.
  • Which State has highest rate?
  • Which Season?


  • Boys vs. girls:
  • Girls think about and attempt suicide about twice as often as boys.
  • Girls who attempt tend to overdose on drugs or cut themselves.
  • Boys are 3 to 4 times more likely to succeed in their attempts.
  • Boys die by suicide more often than girls because they tend to use more lethal methods.


  • Boys tend to use more lethal methods such as firearms, hanging, or jumping from heights.
  • In a recent survey…
  • Almost 1 in 5 high school students had seriously considered attempting suicide.
  • More than 1 in 6 had made plans to attempt suicide; and
  • More than 1 in 12 had made a suicide attempt in the past year.

Stress Factors

  • Hormones
  • Peer Pressure
  • Self-esteem
  • Expectations
  • Academic responsibility

YouTube - Teen Depression & Suicide

  • YouTube - Teen Depression & Suicide

Who is affected?

  • 21. When a teen commits suicide, everyone is affected. Family members, friends, teammates, neighbors, and sometimes even those who did not know the person well may experience feeling of grief, confusion, guilt and the sense that if only they had done something differently, the suicide could have been prevented.

Previous suicide attempts.

  • Previous suicide attempts.
  • Drugs and/or alcohol/substance abuse.
  • Family history of suicide, substance abuse or mental disorders, abuse / violence.
  • Stressful situation or a loss. (death, breakup)
  • Easy access to firearms (most in own home)
  • Exposure to other teens who have committed suicide.
  • Risk Factors?

Socially isolated

  • Socially isolated
  • Teens who talk about suicide. Four out of five people give warning signs.
  • Depression. Over 90% of teen suicide victims have a mental disorder, such as depression, and/or history of alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Teens that are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.
  • Risk Factors?

YouTube - committing suicide

  • YouTube - committing suicide

Withdrawal from family/friends

  • Withdrawal from family/friends
  • Shows an inability to concentrate.
  • Sleeps too much or too little or changes in eating habits.
  • Talks of suicide.
  • Has dramatic changes in personal appearance.
  • Loses interest in their favorite activities.
  • Warning Signs
  • Page 31 in workbook
    • 4.2 Describe the warning signs, risk factors, and protective factors for depression and suicide.

Expresses hopelessness or excessive guilt.

  • Expresses hopelessness or excessive guilt.
  • Exhibits selfdestructive behavior.
  • Seems preoccupied with death.
  • Gives away his/her favorite possessions.
  • A breakup with a boy/friend or girlfriend.
  • Warning Signs

A divorce or separation in the family.

  • A divorce or separation in the family.
  • A major family or friendship conflict.
  • A stressful life event such as a perceived failure in/at school.
  • They talk about going away.
  • Warning Signs


  • Ask directly if he/she is considering suicide.
  • Ask if he/she has made a plan and has done anything to carry it out. (how detailed, time, place)
  • Listen openly and tell your friend that you care.
  • Tell your friend that help is available.
  • (page 35 in workbook more suggestions)


  • Do not leave your friend alone!
  • Help your friend find someone trained to help.
  • Talk with a trusted adult (tell someone ASAP)
  • Do not minimize or discount their problems.
  • In an emergency, you can call 800-SUICIDE OR 911.

YouTube - Suicide Signs - Don't give up

  • YouTube - Suicide Signs - Don't give up

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