Tim Schmoyer shared this free resource from his blog the other week, and I want to share it with you, too. Here is how Tim described the resource:
It’s a free toolkit by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention that helps teachers (and anyone who works with teens) think proactively about how to deal with the loss of a youth to suicide in the church or community. It is not geared toward youth ministries specifically, but it still has a lot of great info. It is a best practices document that is incredibly thorough and contains up to date info (including how to deal with social media surrounding a loss of life through suicide).
Issues like suicide are ones you want to be trained on how to respond before it happens rather than trying to put the emotions of your kids on hold while you go study about it. Be proactive and educate yourself about how to respond to suicide and prevent it in the first place by reading through this free toolkit.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever lost someone to suicide. If you have, you know it sucks – big time. Suicide leaves a family with tons of unanswered questions. The person killing themselves thinks that this one-act will solve every problem in their life and the life of those they love. Not true … not even slightly. Their one-act ushers in thousands of other issues that the family must now face alone. What seems like a good idea, ends up being an atomic bomb for family and friends. The people left behind are left picking up the pieces, many of which can’t be put back together. No matter how bad life gets, suicide is never an answer to consider.
In 1998, I lost a brother to suicide.
Brandon left us with thousands of questions, fears, doubts, and deep pain – some of which still rears its head now and again. Could his friends have done something? Yeah, I’m sure they could have. Just like I could have done something … just like any of us could have done something. Who knows, maybe Brandon would still be alive today, but then again, maybe not. His final attempt wasn’t his first. He was pretty determined, it seems, to want out.
From this experience, I take suicide very seriously. I talk openly about it with my students; I make sure they know I am available to talk anytime about anything. I make it known to them that suicide is not an answer, and that no matter what they are dealing with, things will get better. As other safety measures, we’ve “outlawed” bullying in our student ministry. I’ve set a standard in our Jr and Sr High ministry that we will not tolerate bullying of any kind; our ministry is a place of safe community, where all are welcomed and accepted.
In a day when schools are unsafe anymore for teens, as youth workers, we need to create spaces where teens can be themselves without being harassed. As youth workers, we need to be proactive against suicide prevention. We can’t afford not to be.
[Click the picture below to help stop someone you know from committing suicide.]