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Suicide Prevention

Suicide is Preventable.

Most suicides occur due to some form of mental condition, such as depression or a substance abuse disorder. These conditions are treatable and suicide is preventable.


Know the Signs
The more warning signs the greater the risk.

Previous attempts

If your son or daughter has attempted suicide in the past, there is a greater likelihood that he or she will try again. Be very observant of any friends who have tried suicide before.


Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness; behaviors or comments that indicate overwhelming feelings of sadness or pessimistic views of their future.

'Masked' depression

Acts of aggression, gunplay and alcohol/substance abuse. While your daughter or son may not act "depressed," their behavior suggests that they are not concerned about their own safety.

Final arrangements

Giving away prized possessions such as jewelry, clothing, journals or pictures.

Efforts to hurt oneself

Self-injury behaviors including running into traffic, jumping from heights and scratching, cutting and marking the body.

Inability to concentrate or think clearly

Such problems may be reflected in classroom behavior, homework habits, academic performance, household chores and even in conversation. If your son or daughter starts getting poor grades; acting up in class; forgetting or poorly performing chores around the house; or talking in a way that suggests they are having trouble concentrating, these might be signs of stress and risk for suicide.

Changes in physical habits and appearance

Changes include inability to sleep or sleeping all the time; sudden weight gain or loss; or disinterest in appearance or hygiene.

Sudden changes in personality, friends and behaviors

Withdrawing and avoiding friends and family; skipping school or classes; loss of involvement in activities that were once important.

Death and suicidal themes

These might appear in classroom drawings; work samples; journals; or homework.


An increased interest in guns and other weapons; increased access to guns or pills; and/or talking about or hinting at a suicide plan. The greater the planning, the greater the potential for suicide.

Suicide notes

These are a very real sign of danger and should be taken seriously.


Threats may be direct statements such as "I want to die" or "I am going to kill myself." Or, unfortunately, indirect comments such as "The world would be better without me" or "Nobody will miss me anyway" also may be strong indicators of suicidal feelings. A teenage son or daughter might give indirect clues through joking or through comments in school assignments, particularly creative writing or artwork. Younger children and those who may have some delays in their development may not be able to express their feelings in words, but may provide indirect clues in the form of acting-out, violent behavior, often with threatening or suicidal comments. 



Talk About It
Asking the suicide question does not increase the risk.

  • Ask directly - "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"
  • How you ask the question is less important than that you ask it.
  • Talk to the person alone in a private setting.
  • How not to ask the question - "You're not suicidal are you?"

Suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insolvable problem.

  • Listen to the problem and give them your full attention.
  • Offer help in any form.
  • Then ask, "Will you go with me to get help?" or
  • "Will you let me help you?" and
  • "Will you promise not to kill yourself until we've found some help?"


Get Help
Any willingness to accept help at some time, even if in the future, is a good outcome.

• Call 911 if you believe they are in immediate danger of harming themselves.
• The best referral involves taking the person directly to someone who can help.
• The next best referral is getting a commitment from them to accept help, and then making the arrangements to get that help.

The National Suicide PREVENTION LIFEline (l-800-273-8255) is a free 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crises or emotional distress. The LIFEline has referral information specific to each community.

• The third best referral is to give referral information and try to get a good faith commitment not to complete or attempt suicide.

Source: Douglas County Suicide Prevention Alliance

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a 24 hour crisis line for those who are thinking of suicide. They also help those who are feeling hopeless or helpless or know someone that is.

Metro Crisis Line

Metro Crisis Services offers a hotline for those struggling with a mental or emotional problem, getting into trouble with drugs or alcohol, having family or relationship problems, or problems at work or school. Support and guidance is free and confidential.

877-542-SAFE (7233)

SAFE2TELL is designed to help YOU anonymously report any threatening behavior that endangers you, your friends, your family, or your community.


Our Programs
The Douglas County School District takes suicide prevention very seriously. We work very closely with local law enforcement and non profit organizations in our community to educate our stakeholders and provide support to those in need.

Services for Students

  • Signs of Suicide (SOS) is an evidence-based program used in all middle schools to support the 8th grade health essential learning around personal safety. SOS teaches students how to recognize and respond to signs of depression and suicide in themselves or a friend. At the high school level, schools may implement SOS with all students. SOS is funded by a variety of local and state grants.

  • Safe2Tell and Text-a-Tip are anonymous ways for students to report risk-taking behavior to adults. All tips are investigated and many tips have resulted in positive interventions with students for a variety of problems.

  • ACT – Acknowledge-Care-Tell. This acronym is taught in SOS. All secondary schools have been given banners to publicize the importance of informing an adult of all worrisome behaviors.

  • Suicide Intervention Protocols are completed by psychologists, social workers and counselors should a student make suicidal statements to peers or an adult. Based on the assessment, appropriate follow up resources are given to the family. This protocol was recently revised and endorsed by Living Works, Inc to align with Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) language and processes.

  • Second Wind Fund is sponsored by the Second Wind Fund of Metro Denver and supports students who may be at risk of suicide by providing free therapy sessions.

  • District Crisis Team support – in the event of a suicide attempt or completed suicide, District Crisis Team members provide support and evidence-based suicide prevention and postvention services for schools.

  • Advisement Activities designed to inform students about the signs of suicide and how to respond appropriately are available for high school students.

  • Starfish Grief Support Groups are available to all Douglas County families touched by suicide or other deaths.

  • Sources of Strength – this comprehensive program designed for high school students, trains staff and students about what to look for and how to deal with potentially suicidal persons.

  • More Than Sad – The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention developed DVD’s for students and staff dealing with teen depression and suicide.

Services for Staff

  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is an internationally recognized “gatekeeper” program designed to give adults skills to be more comfortable, confident and competent in helping prevent the immediate risk of suicide. To date, over 500 area adults have been trained. This includes more than 80 percent of DCSD counselors, psychologists and social workers. In addition, self-selected high school students have also begun to take the training.

  • The School Suicide Prevention Specialist - one adult at each of our secondary schools and District Crisis Team members completed the certification process offered by American Association of Suicidology.

  • ASIST “Tune Up’s” – are offered for those who have completed the two day ASIST workshop and desire a “refresher”.

  • Working Minds – this suicide prevention program is designed to equip those in the workplace to recognize the warning signs of suicide and how to respond. This training can be as short as one hour or up to three hours.

Services for the Community

  • DCSD is part of the Douglas County Suicide Prevention Alliance. This interagency group shares local suicide statistics, resources and programs that educate our community on the signs of suicide and how to solicit support.

  • A comprehensive protocol for transporting and assessing suicidal adults and students has been developed by local law enforcement agencies, DCSD and area hospitals.

  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is available to all community members interested in suicide prevention for a nominal fee.

Related Articles

Suicide is Preventable - Here's How to Help

Many people may not realize that suicide is the second leading cause of death for middle and high school-aged students, as reported by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is surpassed only by “unintentional injury.” Suicide is preventable, though. Four out of five teens who attempted to end their lives have given clear warning signs or “invitations” to those around them to engage. That means that in 80 percent of cases, we have an opportunity to intervene and save a young person’s life. Read more


Suicide Prevention in Our Schools

A fairly new partnership between DCSD’s Prevention & School Culture team and Douglas County Teen Court coordinators is providing a new path for youth offenders, and Sources of Strength— now present in most DCSD high schools and some middle schools— is establishing a healthy culture and climate with the goal of catching youth long before they fall into unhealthy behaviors or consider taking their own lives. Read more


The Role of Social Media

Two teens in neighboring school districts recently took their own lives. Both boys posted on social media just before their deaths, panicking friends who tried to help but could not save them. Read more



What Happens When You Call for Help?

One of the concerns that prevents individuals from speaking up when they are having suicidal thoughts is the fear of what happens next. The mystery of how that plays out can be scary. Read more