How to Talk to a Suicidal Student

Suicide is a selfish act. People who commit suicide are not just robbing themselves of their lives, but they also are robbing the world of their potential contributions to it. This is why it is important to make sure depressed people get the help they need. Teachers can become confidants for young people considering suicide. While a teacher’s position of authority can make students reluctant to talk, teachers who show compassion and prove to be trustworthy can find their authority to be an asset.

Talking to Suicidal Students

Bring up the subject. This is one of the most difficult things to do, because the student will naturally want to avoid the conversation. Make sure both you and the student are alone and have time to talk. Never accuse a student of being suicidal, and never be judgmental. Say something like, “I noticed those marks on your arms, and I am concerned.” Once you’ve initiated the conversation, don’t let the student leave until you have at least said your piece.

Find a reason for the student to live. Remind him of how his loved ones would feel if he died. Tell him that suicides often lead to other suicides. Find a cause he cares about. Tell him that if he doesn’t get involved, who will? Is there an event coming up in his life he’s looking forward to?

Listen to the student. He may be reluctant to tell you about his problems. If so, you will need to coax it out of him, which may require multiple conversations. No matter what, be sympathetic and understanding. Never be judgemental. If a student refuses to admit he’s suicidal or depressed, at least tell him help is available and tell him how to get it. Also, be sure to say that you’re available anytime he wants to talk.

Ask the student to get help. Tell him depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. It is not his fault he feels depressed. With treatment, it is possible to reduce and even cure depression. The disorder is a lot more common than most people think. The student does not need to feel this way all the time.

Recommend ways to get help. The most effective cure for clinical depression is therapy combined with proper medication. Psychiatrists are easy to find. It is not unusual to know someone who is seeing a therapist. Ask around. Find out who’s good. If that doesn’t work, then pull out the phone book. There are also toll-free suicide hotlines all around the country. I’ve included a link below with examples.

Suicide is a selfish act. People who commit suicide are not just robbing themselves of their lives