“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.
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.
PTAs are often the target of scammers. It's important for PTA officers to know the red flags to look out for to help keep your PTA safe.
Some scams may spoof the email of another officer to help make the request look legitimate. But there are things to check for before you reply:
Protecting Your PTA
There are a few things you and your board should be doing in order to protect your PTA:
Money Handling Policy
Does your PTA have a money handling policy? Has your PTA updated their policy to include online banking?
Money handling policies are important to have so that it is very clear how your members and board are handling the funds of the PTA. Having these policies written out, communicated, and followed helps safeguard your PTA from scammers, and mishandled money. They should include how you handle your cash, checks, deposits, withdrawals, any online money access, and more.
Need some help putting your money handling policies together or updating them? Council recently updated their own money handling policies, and it is available for you to use as a sample. Still have questions? Contact Council Treasurer, Serena Xu.
Remember: There is nothing more urgent for your PTA than to follow best practices and policies to ensure you don't get caught in a scam!
Applications* are now being accepted for Northshore Council PTSA's 2021-2022 Educational Speakers and Community Events Grant Program!
This program is designed to help support Northshore PTAs in hosting relevant and timely speakers for our district families and to encourage them to create engaging events for our community. ALL local PTAs, within the Northshore School District and in good standing, may apply for a grant through a simple application process.
Learn more about our grants program by clicking here.
Download & Print the 2021-2022 Grants Application Form
*2021-2022 grants are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis where applications will be reviewed by the Northshore Council PTSA or until the Council Programs budget is used in its entirety.
Submission Deadlines for Applications
September 24, 2021 (Review by Council on Oct. 4th)
November 26, 2021 (Review by Council on Dec. 6th)
January 21, 2022 (Review by Council on Feb. 1st)
Looking for a speaker or event to bring to your community? Check out our past Grant Recipients and our Community Resource Page for inspiration.
Questions? Email us!
Northshore Council is continuing to provide Online Meeting Hosting for local PTAs/PTSAs this school year!
This can be used by any local PTA/PTSA that wants Council to host a Zoom meeting for them. Please note that max number of attendees is 100 and that this service is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Here is how it will work:
Questions? Contact us!
Calling all Advocates!
It's time to get started on PTA Advocacy for the 2021-2022 school year.
Here are 6 Advocacy Action Items to add to your PTA's back to school list of things to do:
Bonus Advocacy Action Item: Let’s Vote Challenge! National Voter Registration Day is September 28th! Did you know that Local PTAs/PTSAs can run voter registration drives? You can also include the graphic below in your e-news and on social media to encourage your members to register to vote! For WA state, voter information and registration can be found at http://vote.wa.gov/ and is provided in multiple languages!
All PTA/PTSAs must update their officer information in memberplanet, the membership database used by Washington State PTA (WSPTA). Updating officer information is a requirement for all PTAs per the WSPTA Standards of Affiliation. Doing so gives WSPTA and Northshore Council PTSA the means to contact a PTA/PTSA if a need arises as well as ensuring that all PTA/PTSA leaders are included in important WSPTA and Northshore Council communications.
The way to communicate leader information in memberplanet is through its Committees Module.
There are a number of resources to help local PTA leaders use and understand memberplanet. However, because the Committees Module feature is so new, the documentation and support is not yet very extensive. Due to the importance of updating officer information, Northshore Council PTSA has created a guide to help users navigate the process.
Download the “Assigning and Updating PTA Leaders in memberplanet” guide to get started!
Looking for more help with using memberplanet? Attend Northshore Council's upcoming training!
Date: September 9, 2021
Location: Online via Zoom
Presenter: Amanda Cabana, WSPTA Membership Director
Looking for help with using memberplanet? Attend Northshore Council's upcoming training!
Date: September 9, 2021
Location: Online via Zoom
Presenter: Amanda Cabana, WSPTA Membership Director
This training is intended to teach Northshore PTA Leaders how to navigate memberplanet, update PTA officers, enter memberships, and more!
Registration is required. Once registered, participants will be emailed a link to join the Zoom on September 9th.
Questions? Contact us!
Hello Northshore PTA Leaders!
We all know that last year was incredibly challenging, stressful and at times downright frustrating. But, the barriers COVID presented also encouraged us to think outside our comfort zones to come up with new and innovative ways to engage with and support our communities. Through it all, our Northshore PTAs have continued to be strong, flexible and tenacious. I am so proud of every single one of our PTAs for not backing down in the face of such an extreme challenge and continuing to achieve their mission of supporting every child's potential. As we step into the 2021-2022 school year, it seems that this next school year will be more of the same - challenging us once again to pivot quickly and adapt to changing circumstances that are beyond our control.
I want to let you know that we are always here for you. Our mission as your Northshore PTSA Council is to support the work you do at the local PTA level. We have many resources that can help you navigate the day to day PTA work, as well as the unexpected, including:
Our 2021-2022 Council team is ready to help you continue to do amazing things for our students, families, schools and communities.
Wishing you a fantastic school year!