‘Are You Thinking About Suicide?’
By Mary Ellen Flannery.
January 2020. NEA Today Magazine
“In the last nine days, in just this area, we’ve lost another three students to suicide,” said Tim Warnock, a physical education teacher in the suburbs of Phoenix, after a series of student deaths in October 2019.
The numbers are scary and sad, but not shocking to Warnock or his wife Lorie, a high school English teacher of 28 years. The couple knows all too well that Arizona’s teen suicide rate has increased 25 percent over the past three years. “There is a suicide epidemic,” says Lorie Warnock flatly.
An incredible one in six high school students reported “seriously considering suicide” in 2017, including nearly one in four girls and almost half of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. At this rate, every high school teacher—and many educators of younger students—knows a student considering suicide. But these young people can be kept safe, experts say.
“This topic can be really overwhelming. It can feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, is there nothing we can do as a society?’” says psychologist Lindsey Giller of the Child Mind Institute. “There are things we can do. Suicides can be prevented.”