November 9, 2018
Dear Chino Valley Unified School District Parents and Guardians:
I am writing to you because I want to make sure you are aware of an important issue we are dealing with as a school community: our students’ mental health and wellbeing. As you may be aware, in recent months, our school district has experienced an increase in incidents involving students with challenging emotional and mental health issues. In light of these recent tragedies, I want to make sure that we, as a community, do everything we can to make our students feel that we support them at all times. In particular, we need to ensure that we are sensitive to how our students are coping with stress, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness or depression.
If you feel that your child is struggling with emotional or mental health issues, here are some resources and information so that you know where you can turn to for assistance.
Our school district is committed to doing everything we can to support students and families. In September, we held a suicide prevention and awareness community assembly at Chino Hills High School, led by a mental health professional. The school district will be holding another suicide prevention and awareness community assembly in January at Chino Hills High School. We will publicize the details when the assembly is finalized and notify you.
While all children are unique, there are some commonalities in behavioral signs that indicate they may be troubled, suffering from anxiety or depression, or contemplating suicide. Experts agree that youth who are contemplating suicide typically give warning signs of their distress. I encourage you to communicate and connect with your child—give them your attention, listen to their feelings, understand their struggles and recognize any possible warning signs. At the end of this letter, I have attached a mental health resource guide that outlines some of the warning signs of suicide.
Another excellent resource is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a group that raises awareness and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide. Their website is filled with valuable information and can be accessed here: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
If you feel like you need immediate, additional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you would like to learn more about school district services and support for your child, please contact you school’s counseling department. Contact information for each of our schools can be found on our District website, at https://www.chino.k12.ca.us
Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you want to discuss anything. I am hopeful that we can continue to work together to provide the care and support that all of our students deserve.
Norm Enfield, Ed.D
WARNING SIGNS FOR SUICIDE
What can alert you to someone’s suicidal thoughts or feelings?
- Suicidal communication: Someone threatening to hurt or kill themselves or talking of wanting to do so. This includes ominous utterances, such as, speaking of going away or of others being better off without
- Seeking access to a method: Someone looking for ways to kill themselves by seeking access to pills, rope, or other
- Making preparations: Someone talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the
- I = Ideation
- S = Substance abuse
- P = Purposelessness (loss of purpose/reason for living)
- A = Anxiety (worry, agitation, sleep disturbances)
- T = Trapped (feeling of being unable to escape situation)
- H = Hopelessness
- W = Withdrawal (from others)
- A = Anger (rage, aggression)
- R = Recklessness
- M = Mood changes
Significant recent events:
- Break-up of a partner relationship/significant relationship problems
- Experience of trauma
- Impending legal event or child custody issues
- Past history of suicide attempt/family history of suicide or suicide attempt/recent suicide of friend
- Loss of loved one
- Financial crisis, job loss or other major employment setback
- Family conflict or breakdown
- Withdrawal or intoxication
- Chronic pain/illness
- Recent discharge from treatment service
Brief Facts and Tips
- Youth suicide is a serious problem. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among school age youth. In 2013, 17% of our nation's high school students seriously considered suicide and 8% made an attempt.
- Suicide is preventable. Youth who are contemplating suicide typically give warning signs of their distress. Most important is to never take these warning signs lightly or promise to keep them secret.
- Suicide Risk Factors. Certain characteristics are associated with increased suicide risk include:
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Isolation and aloneness
- Non-suicidal self-injury (e.g., cutting)
- Mental illness including depression, conduct disorders, and substance abuse
- Family stress/dysfunction
- Family history of suicide
- Environmental risks, including presence of a firearm in the home
- Situational crises (e.g., the presence of a gun in the home, bullying and harassment, serious disciplinary action, death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, breakup of a relationship/friendship, family violence, suicide of a peer)
- Suicide Warning Signs. Most suicidal youth demonstrate observable behaviors signaling suicidal thinking:
Suicidal threats in the form of direct (e.g., "I am going to kill myself") and indirect (e.g., "I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up again") statements
Suicide notes and plans (including online postings)
Making final arrangements (e.g., giving away prized possessions)
Preoccupation with death
Changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts, and/or feelings.
- There are protective factors that can lessen the effects of risk factors. These can include family and peer support, school and community connectedness, healthy problem-solving skills, and easy access to effective medical and mental health services.
- Get immediate help if a suicide threat seems serious. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)