• Employee Resources
  • Language

Suicide is preventable, here's how to help!

One conversation can change a life. Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Each week this month, Douglas County School District (DCSD) will provide information and tips on how to prevent suicide from occurring in our community.

Many people may not realize that suicide is the second leading cause of death for middle and high school-aged students, as reported by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is surpassed only by “unintentional injury.”

Suicide is preventable, though. Four out of five teens who attempted to end their lives have given clear warning signs or “invitations” to those around them to engage. That means that in 80 percent of cases, we have an opportunity to intervene and save a young person’s life.

There are signs you can watch for (see below). But there are also preventative activities you can begin with. Next week, we will discuss prevention programs in DCSD schools.

Where do I begin?

  • Model the mental health behavior you want to see in your kids: You may wish to share examples of how you are taking care of your own mental health, such as exercising, talking to someone, asking for help, speaking honestly about your emotions, or doing something you enjoy.

  • Break down barriers and stigmas by talking bluntly about mental health: A straightforward conversation about being okay to not always feel okay can help remove barriers in the future and provide an invitation for future conversations.

What are possible signs of someone contemplating suicide?

  • Depression: Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness; behaviors or comments that indicate overwhelming feelings of sadness or pessimistic views of their future.

  • “Masked” Depression: While your child or another individual may not act "depressed," their behavior suggests that they are not concerned about their own safety. This may include acts of aggression, gunplay and alcohol/substance abuse.

  • Inability to concentrate or think clearly: Such problems may be reflected in classroom behavior, homework habits, academic performance, household chores and even in conversation. If your child starts getting poor grades, acting up in class, forgetting or poorly performing chores around the house, or talking in a way that suggests they are having trouble concentrating, these might be signs of stress and risk for suicide.

View more possible signs of someone contemplating suicide

What do I say to my child, friend, or loved one?

The most important thing someone can do is talk about it with the individual who may be showing signs of being suicidal. Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of the individual taking his or her own life. How you ask the question is less important than that you ask for it:

  • Don't ask the question - "You're not suicidal are you?" 

  • Ask directly - "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"

  • Talk to the person alone in a private setting.

Suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insolvable problem.

  • Listen to the problem and give them your full attention.

  • Offer help in any form.

  • Then ask, "Will you go with me to get help?" or "Will you let me help you?"

  • Ask, "Will you promise not to kill yourself until we've found some help?"

View more information and resources on suicide prevention

Where do I go for help?

Once you’ve had the conversation with your child, friend, or loved one, there are suicide hotlines and resources where you can go to get help:


Next Week's Suicide Prevention Month Article: Suicide Prevention in DCSD Schools

September 7, 2017 | By CSilberman | Category: Prevention and School Culture, Mental Health Intervention

District News

Kim working with a student

The award wasn't a surprise to anyone at Rocky Heights Middle School except for Kim Chlumsky herself.




Banner displayed on a brick wall that says "What are your Sources of Strength?"

A fairly new partnership between DCSD’s Prevention & School Culture team and Douglas County Teen Court coordinators is providing a new path for youth offenders. Additionally, Sources of Strength— now present in most DCSD high schools and some middle schools— is establishing a healthy culture and climate with the goal of catching youth long before they fall into unhealthy behaviors or consider taking their own lives.


Cohl in Athens at World Championship game, holding a large American flag over his head

Ponderosa High School student and wrestler Cohlton Schultz has just returned back from Athens, Greece to Colorado after becoming the first United States World Champion in 20 years in Greco-Roman wrestling.

Ponderosa Assistant Principal and Athletic Director, Tim Ottman led a 30-minute assembly Wednesday for Cohl, joined by Cohl’s parents, his coaches from the Olympic Training Center, his former Ponderosa wrestling coach (and current Assistant Principal) Corey McNellis, and current wrestling coach Tito Rinaldis.