While the teen years involve exciting and fast-paced growth in exploring and refining one’s identity, learning about the world, forming strong social ties, and mastering abstract thought, for many these years can also be quite difficult. Suicide risk is particularly high in adolescence, when many different factors come together to influence mental health. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15–19 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
Social workers must be able to recognize and respond to adolescent clients who may be contemplating dying by suicide. Understanding the adolescent’s social environment, developmental stage, mental health history, and bio-psychosocial aspects greatly improves the chance for a successful intervention. So not only must social workers identify the signs, but they must also be able to act on them in a way that addresses the client holistically.
This week, as you close out the course, you consider the reasons, indicators, and interventions surrounding the potential act of suicide—and the positive influence that social workers can have.
Post your initial response to the following:
- After learning about Stephanie, imagine that you had been the school social worker at the time of her suicidal ideation. Which indicators would you have looked for in Stephanie and why?
- How would you have responded to each of those indicators? What kinds of questions would you have asked her and why?