To Manhattan Parents and Community:
As a school we are spending many resources in order to keep our children safe from the tragedies we too often read in the newspapers. Thankfully, schools remain the safest place for students—safer than many homes, safer than freeways and highways; studies show the safest of the places they frequent. While this is good, another danger, far more frequently experienced by communities, has been less talked about recently—and that is suicide. In Manhattan we have been fortunate indeed to not have had to deal with the tragedy of death by suicide for over two decades, and we ask your help to insure that we stay a suicide-free school.
When I came to this school 21 years ago, a student had died by suicide just the year before. We have had no such deaths since—attempts, yes; completions, none. At school we teach the SOS Program recommended by the Montana Office of Public Instruction and Karl Rosston, our State Suicide Prevention Coordinator. Montana is always in the top three states for suicide rates—always. I hope you will look over this bit of basic information:
Signs of suicide
- Feelings of hopelessness, uncharacteristic hostility or anger, and guilt, as well as a sense of uselessness and confusion.
- Unusually aggressive toward or withdrawal from friends and family.
- Themes of death or destruction in talk, writing, or websites.
- Changes in personality (an “I don’t care” attitude), changes in friends, sleep patterns or appetite, marked decrease in school work, or use of drugs and alcohol.
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
- Giving away of treasured items.
- Sudden improvement after being down or withdrawn. Yes, improvement.
- Talking about suicide (or not, too).
Note: In the Gallatin Valley, we also have a number of suicides by perfectionistic students who feel inadequate, just not perfect enough.
What to do if a person seems suicidal—ACT
- A: Acknowledge the signs.
- C: Show you
- T: Tell.
- Also, never leave a person alone who is thought to be suicidal.
- Your children are told to tell a trusted adult. Your children are asked to tell an adult anytime a peer talks about hurting him or herself. That adult and/or your child should notify a professional, such as the school principal, school counselor, or police immediately. You can also use this resource:
- Suicide Lifeline Number: 800.273.8255 or text MT to 741.741.
Note: At a recent training I attended the presenter believes that watching 13 Reasons Why is both unhealthy for children under 16 to watch and has led to suicide attempts and perhaps deaths.
The counseling staff is here to support your children and you. Please let us know anytime we can help with depression—the illness that leads to suicide—or anytime you hear talk of someone wanting to take his or her life. It is an honor to be available to you. Copy of this Letter as a PDF File
Bridget Woolbaugh, LCPC
Manhattan Public Schools