Supporting Students' Mental Health Needs

Woodridge School District 68 has been working proactively to support the mental health needs of our students. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 14[1]. Through our partnership with Elyssa’s Mission and their SOS Signs of Suicide Program, all seventh and eighth graders have participated in a preventive education program and screening. Through teacher training and the numerous social emotional supports in our buildings, we work to instill positive mental health in all of our students.

Given the popularity of the book and Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, we have been reviewing guidance from mental health experts and national organizations. The book and series are intense and emotional and can serve as an opportunity to have a dialogue with your child regarding depression, bullying, and suicide. We know that many students will be watching this series and want to remind you of the supports we have in place as well as warning signs for suicide and depression. The National Association for School Psychologists (NASP) has outlined numerous tips for families when engaging in conversation about youth suicide[2], including:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them; raising the issue does not plant the idea, but rather creates the opportunity for help
  • Listen to your children’s comments without judgment
  • Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever
  • Get help from a mental health professional (see resources below) if you have immediate concern for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers

Elyssa’s Mission has outlined a number of warning signs for suicide that parents should be aware of[3]:

  • Talking about or writing about suicide or death
  • Giving direct verbal cues, such as “I wish I were dead” and “I’m going to end it all”
  • Isolating himself/herself from family and friends
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Expressing the belief that life is meaningless
  • Exhibiting a sudden or unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed and withdrawn
  • Neglecting his or her hygiene
  • Dropping out of school or social, athletic, and/or community events

If you have immediate concerns about the safety of your child, here are some resources:

DuPage Health Department SASS Crisis Health Services: (630) 627-1700, available 24/7

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8225)

Please contact your school’s social worker or principal at any point if you would like further guidance.  They are always available to support you with for more information or resources.

[3] Warning Signs (Elyssa's Mission)