“Are you thinking about suicide?”
This could be one of the most important questions you ever ask.
September is Suicide Awareness month.
Many of us are unaware that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and was the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States in 2019. Among high school students, 1 in 5 has seriously thought about suicide, and nearly 9% have attempted. Four out of five teens who attempted suicide have given clear warning signs.
These statistics are scary, but there is hope! We can prevent this tragedy by identifying and supporting young people who are struggling with mental health symptoms, including thinking about suicide. Some individuals and communities are more at risk than others, including people of color, indigenous peoples, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Creating a caring community lets those in need know that they are not alone and that there is hope. Remember, silence hurts us all.
It has been proven that asking the tough question, "Are you thinking of hurting yourself?" does NOT lead to suicidal tendencies. In fact, it can reduce ideations and attempts. We should encourage everyone to become comfortable talking about suicide and make sure to check on friends and loved ones. The more we talk about it and provide support and understanding, the more lives we can save.
If you suspect someone is struggling, ask them or tell someone who is in a position to help. Don't be afraid to reach out to the parents of your child's friends or the student’s school counselor about their struggles or warning signs you see. This could save a child’s life! Kids need to learn how to spot signs in their friends, too, and feel impowered to speak up when necessary. If your student needs advice or assistance, their school counselor is always a good place to start.
Signs to Look For & Steps to Take
There are quite a few things that have been associated with increased risk for suicide. It is important to be aware of these signs:
• Prior suicide attempts
• Family history of suicide
• History of mental health conditions
• Substance misuse
• Impulsivity or aggressiveness
• Serious family problems
• Breakups or other major relationship losses
• Access to means for self-harm
• Social isolation
• History of traumatic experiences
There are also several things that might indicate that the person’s thoughts of suicide are escalating or that there is more acute risk, including:
• Talking, joking, or posting online about dying or life not being worth living
• Feelings of hopelessness, shame or of being a burden to others
• Extreme sadness, anger, or irritability
• Planning or researching ways to die
• Withdrawal from others, saying or posting “goodbye” messages, giving away possessions
• Erratic or disorganized behavior
• Seeking means to self-harm
If you have observed any of these signs or risk factors, and are concerned about someone, here's 5 steps you can take:
► Start by offering compassion (not advice), avoid judgment, acknowledge their suffering, and just listen.
► After that, ask them if they are thinking of suicide. Be calm and direct. Asking will NOT put the idea into their mind.
► If you are confident that they are not in immediate danger, and they have a mental health treatment provider, contact them for next steps. If they do not have a mental health provider, contact the person's primary doctor or pediatrician.
► If you feel their life, or someone else’s life is in danger, then take away all objects that could pose a danger (medications, firearms, knives, ropes, chemicals).
► Next, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or any other resource listed. Call 9-1-1 in an emergency or last resort. Let the operator know that this is a mental health crisis.
Additional Resources & Helpful Websites
This article was brought to you by Northshore Council PTSA's Mental Health Committee.
Every year PTAs start their membership campaign and every year families ask the same question: "Why join the PTA?"
After over a year of being at home, many families may feel discounted and be asking why they should support PTA. It can be hard to communicate your PTA's value with programs being offered virtually when families are used to attending PTA events in person or seeing the support your PTA does in the classroom.
That's why it's more important than ever to answer the question "Why PTA?" One great way of doing that is sharing with your families the reason why you support the PTA. Knowing WHY those leading your PTA serve is a great way to inspire other families to support your PTA by joining or donating.
Check out all the reasons that inspire your Northshore Council Leaders to PTA below!
Interested in making your own "Why I PTA" slides but need help? Contact Council's Co-VP of Membership, Melissa Kline.
Registration is now open for the 43rd Annual WSPTA Legislative Assembly!
PTA delegates from across the state will come together to update the WSPTA legislative platform. At legislative assembly, discover the power PTA has to advocate for the success of every child – the whole child. In PTA every member has an equal voice, and your input matters a great deal to the success of PTA's grassroots member-driven platform. PTA is needed more than ever right now, and you can help!
Key Things to Note:
During the 43rd annual Washington State PTA Legislative Assembly, delegates will decide the public policy positions that guide state and local advocacy work for WSPTA and its associated local PTAs and councils. To learn more about being a voting delegate, visit WSPTA's Legislative Assembly Voting Information page which includes the 2021 Voters’ Guide that has been created to help delegates prepare for the caucusing and general sessions.
The Washington State PTA legislative platform is a two-year platform to mirror the Washington state legislative cycle. On the even-numbered years, the new platform is voted on by members at the legislative assembly in the fall. The top five issues become our short-term platform and consist of our priority issues when advocating throughout the year. Other issues are placed on an “also supported” list. Learn about WSPTA's current legislative priorities and other supported issues by clicking here.
Be a part of the process and help direct the course for WSPTA advocacy by serving as a delegate for your PTA! If you are interested in attending Legislative Assembly as a delegate for your local PTA, contact your local PTA president.
Check out the Legislative Assembly web page to learn more about this year's event.
Does your PTA have a display board?
Now's the perfect time to create one as it can be used all year long!
Why make a display board?
It's a great tool to use to easily identify your PTA, connect with members of your school community, and highlight your PTA's value!
A display board is a great tool to have at your membership table at events. It helps volunteers easily answer the question we often hear - “Why should I join PTA?” You could also ask to put the display board in your school office in the fall so staff and families can see what PTA contributes to your community.
Recently, Northshore Council PTSA leaders attended the NSD Back-to-School Fair to highlight all Northshore PTAs and ask families to join their local PTA. We had a display board at our table to highlight what programs and activities are run through PTA. Check out Council's display board below for inspiration!
Some ideas to highlight when creating your display board:
The theme search for the 2023-2024 Reflections arts program is underway! Students are encouraged to submit theme ideas that spark fun and creativity! In response to the winning theme, students from Pre-K through 12th grade will create original works of art in one or all the available arts categories: Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography, Visual Arts.
The student who submits the winning entry will receive a $100 prize from National PTA. Past themes and duplicate submissions will not be considered. Submissions must by received via email by Nov. 1, 2021.
Download the form to submit a theme idea by clicking here. Email submissions to email@example.com.
Start the school year off right by being sure to check these important tasks off your PTA To-Do list!
This is a busy time of year for PTA Leaders with so many things to get done in order to run your PTA, plan programming for students, and provide support to your school community. Here at Council we want to make sure a few key "to-do" items don't get overlooked so we've created the checklist below. We've included links and resources for these items, but remember, Council is always here to help and support our local Northshore PTA Leaders! Visit our Contact Page to connect with a Council officer.
The 2021-2022 school year is upon us and the PTA year is about to get into full swing! By now your PTA has held its summer board retreat and has begun planning a membership campaign. So what's next?
Now it's time to plan your first general membership meeting of the year! While some PTAs may be planning for in person meetings, many will plan for their meeting to be held virtually, which may require a little additional preparation.
If you are new to hosting virtual meetings, get to know your virtual meeting tool’s online support – there should be tips for setup for all the features, including screen sharing, enabling closed captioning, and login requirements.
TIP: Host one or more practice meetings with a few board members ahead of time to get accustomed to the online meeting tools and platform you'll be using.
Whether the PTA meets virtually or in person, the same items of business must be done.
Bonus Tip: Plan on having something additional to offer your members once the business is complete. The first meeting is a great opportunity for your principal to give an update on the start of the year – there are lots of things about this school year that are different! Plan ahead with your principal and make sure you know what format for taking questions they are comfortable with. During the meeting, act as the moderator by setting ground rules and expectations for how members will participate and ask their questions.
Questions about planning your 1st general membership meeting of the year? Contact Council - We are here to help!
Information provided in this blog was originally posted by WSPTA in a 2020 article. Click here to read that article.