Term Paper: Teen Suicide and Schools

Pages: 8 (2274 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Barriers to Suicide Prevention Programs

Even with the alarming increases in teen suicide and the threat of potential litigation, suicide prevention programs in schools remain inadequate. Currently, only one in ten schools have suicide prevention programs (Portner, "Many schools fall short on prevention).

One reason for the lack of programs is a reluctance on the part of the school boards and parents to recognize the problem. Many still feel that teen suicide is a family issue that should be dealt with at home. For example, the Eagle Forum, a conservative family-advocacy group, protests suicide education programs as "death education" (Portner, "Prevention"). The view expresses the stigma that remains attached to suicide and illustrates the difficulty of discussing, much less instituting, suicide prevention in many school districts.

But the main barrier towards establishing suicide prevention programs in school is the lack of money. Most states have limited budgets that barely cover basic education needs.

Most states do not allot money for mental health programs for students, despite studies showing that most students who visit health school clinics do so for mental and substance abuse problems, not stomach aches (Portner, "Budget Battles").

California's suicide prevention programs should serve as models for other states, but many legislatures are not willing to shell out the seed money. Such an unwillingness is myopic, however, since prevention can be seen ass a long-term investment due to the emotional and economic toll that suicide takes on the population. Aside from the loss of lifetime contributions when a citizen dies prematurely, emergency room use for suicide attempts costs states an average of $33,000 per visit. With approximately 730,000 attempted suicides per year nationwide, that can be a pretty hefty price tag (source).

Some school districts, however, have paved the way for creative solutions to the lack of finances. The Memphis School District, for example, is generally poor and located in an area rife with gang activity. Not surprisingly, the suicide rate in Memphis is much higher than the national average.

Despite the lack of resources, the school district has adopted an experimental program that addresses problems of health, conflict resolution among peers and suicide. Though they hired additional behavior specialists, the bulk of the Memphis program rested on the creation of team who, through the exchange of information, could keep track of children with problems. The team members included all personnel who could have contact with children - from principals to counselors to custodians. The district also recruited psychology graduate students to work as unpaid interns for college credit (Portner, "Memphis"). Though it is too early to assess their success, the Memphis program shows how school districts can respond to their students' mental health needs when funding is not available.

Conclusion

In conclusion, teen suicide needs to be recognized as a major problem affecting the country's youth. Though there are differing opinions as to the problem's cause, the only thing that experts agree upon is that teen suicide rates have steadily risen over the past decades and will continue to spike while the problem is ignored.

The changing nature of family in the United States and the greater role of schools have already been demonstrated through negative means - lawsuits against schools for negligence.

Schools, where adolescents typically spend most of their time, are in a unique position to address the problem of teen suicide, through comprehensive programs that deal with suicide education and intervention. However, to be effective, schools must receive the necessary community and financial support.

The success of such programs in California and Boston underscore the need for similar programs all over the country, particularly in areas where the youth are at high risk. After all, suicide prevention programs are an important means of safeguarding and nurturing the country's youth.

Works Cited

Atkins, Kimberly. "High School Sharpens Focus on Suicide." Boston Globe. 17 March 2002: 6.

Brooke, James. "2 Students in Colorado School Said to Gun Down as Many as 23 and Kill Themselves in a Siege" The New York Times. 21 April 1999: A1, A17.

King, Keith A. "Developing a Comprehensive School Suicide Prevention Program." The Journal of School Health. April 2001: 132-137.

Milsom, Amy. "Suicide prevention in schools: Court cases and implications for principals." NASSP Bulletin. March 2002: 24-33.

Portner, Jessica. One in Thirteen.

Maryland: Robins Lane Press, 2001.

Portner, Jessica. " Memphis: A District Under Emotional Renovation." Education Week 19 April 2000. 4 December 2002 http://www.edweek.org/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=32memphis.h19

Portner, Jessica. "Prevention: One School Tries to Reach Out." Education Week 19 April 2000. 4 December 2002… [END OF PREVIEW]

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