I have talked about teens’ mental health and suicide prevention since 1992. It is an honor to be trusted to speak on teens and mental health in high school assemblies and to school communities all over the world. There is a high probability that one will come across topics related to self-harm or self-injury when talking about teen suicide prevention and teen mental health.
As a teenage mental health speaker, I educate teenagers in various ways. One of the ways is through a full school assembly. The other way is collaborating with counselors and having a one-on-one sessions with students. Through my training, I have noticed that one-on-one sessions are more successful because the teenagers are comfortable sharing their emotional pain and life experiences with me and how they cope with life’s challenges.
Teen Suicide Prevention
If you’re interested in teen suicide prevention visit Jeff’s online course for school communities: parents, teachers, counselors, teens, and school administrators. (Click Here)
What is Self-Harm
Self-harm is a non-suicidal act of deliberately harming or injuring one’s body.
Types of Self-Harm
Many people think that self-harm is limited to burning and cutting oneself. However, this is not the case since self-harm includes other activities such as pulling out bodily hairs, punching walls, ingesting toxic substances or sharp objects, head banging, self-medicating, and even reckless behavior.
Would you include vaping as self-harm? Absolutely. The same way you would include alcohol, pot, pills, etc.
Reasons Teens Self-Harm
There are various reasons why teenagers engage in self-harm. Some of them include the following:
- Emotional disconnect or detachment from or not being validated by their parents. Self-harm makes them feel alive inside and helps confirm their existence in reality.
- Peer pressure. The desire for teenagers to be accepted by their peers will lead them to conform to group norms and expectations, such as self-harm. Research has shown that individuals will conform to their peers’ norms, behaviors, and attitudes because they lack self-esteem.
- For girls, self-harm may be used as a coping strategy with overly demanding parents, especially in situations where the father is the dominant voice when it comes to discipline and decision-making.
Three Common Reasons Teens Self-Harm
During my one-on-one interaction with teenage students, I have discovered that one of the main reasons why teens engage in self-harm is because they lack meaningful relationships. For example, some students have claimed that they don’t have friends. Secondly, they feel they disappoint themselves, their parents, friends, and teachers. Thirdly, the teens feel they are a burden and do not want to speak up. My advice to teenagers on this matter is to speak up. Otherwise, the issues (negative feelings, depression, trauma, and brokenness) they fail to speak up about will end up hurting them later in life.
My job is to be a trusted adult providing a safe place for them to share and start the conversation. In other words, my job is to provide a safe environment for teenagers to open up. Similar to filling the gap between their pain and getting the help they need and encouraging them to find that trusted professional so they can deal with whatever it is that is driving them to cope in an unhealthy manner.
Unfortunately, most parents of these teenagers lack the capability to provide trust or a safe environment where the children can express their emotions, which pushes them away. Teenagers need an adult or a parent who provides them with love, support, validation of their thoughts and feelings, and trust. Do not think of how you will respond as a trusted guardian, adult, or parent. Take the time to create a safe space with an open heart and show you are proud they have come to you, and they are talking.
Self-injury may be an attempt to:
- Cope or decrease severe emotional distress or anxiety and provide relief.
- Provide a distraction from painful emotions through physical pain.
- Feel a sense of control over the body, feelings, or life situations.
- Feel something — anything — even if it’s a physical pain when feeling emotionally empty.
- Express internal feelings in an external way.
- Communicate feelings of stress or depression to the outside world.
- Punish oneself.
Self-Harm: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The first step I take when a teenager says that they are self-harming is not to get alarmed or react. Instead, I thank them for expressing their emotions and trusting me. It takes a lot of courage for a teenage student to trust me and express their emotions.
The Good in Self-Harm
(I am not saying self-harm is healthy, but from the side of intervention, self-harming teens are crying for help, wanting to be heard. Therefore, don’t react and think it’s a suicide attempt.)
Many people, including teachers, are shocked when I say self-harm has benefits. Indeed, there are various benefits to self-harm. For many of these teens, cutting or burning themselves numbs unpleasant thoughts. It helps take the emotional pain away, leaving them in control of the physical pain that replaces emotional pain. The other benefit of self-harm to student teenagers is that it gives them fast-acting relief from emotional distress and pain. Physical pain stimulates the body to release endorphins. Endorphins block nerve cells from receiving or transmitting pain signals.
Essentially, self-harm among teenagers is a coping strategy for teenagers with emotional pain. These teenagers need help, but they do not know the best way to seek this help since they are afraid of being judged, not being heard, not being validated, and parents not reacting, to mention a few.
The other reason teenagers fail to speak out is that they do not know exactly how to articulate what they are feeling and why they are acting out in an unhealthy manner. It is good that teenagers have emotions. Otherwise, a lack of emotions is a concern among teenagers since it is abnormal. Most teenagers are surprised that I do not disappoint or judge them. Instead,
I take away their guilt and shame. Therefore creating a safe environment for them is an essential step in ensuring that teenagers open up.
When the teenagers open up to me, I tell them, “You know this isn’t a healthy way of coping, right?” The teenagers agree with me. I then show the alternative ways of coping with the emotional distress that they are going through. I then encourage them to seek professional help.
It is important to note that one cannot help a teen who self-harms if one does not know they need help.
The Bad in Self-Harm
One of the major reasons teens are turning towards self-harming behaviors is the endorphin effect they receive. Endorphins are secreted into their bloodstream when teens cut or burn themselves. They experience a numbing or pleasurable sensation which is bad because if they don’t get the professional help they need this pleasurable feeling will continue to make them feel better. They’ll continue self-injury, making seeking help difficult the longer they’re not learning healthy coping skills.
Self-injury can cause major complications, such as:
- Worsening feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem.
- Infection, either from wounds or from sharing tools.
- Permanent scars or other permanent harm to the body.
- Worsening of underlying issues and conditions, if not properly treated.
- Severe injury that could lead to death.
The Ugly in Teen Self-Harm
Self-injury is not usually a suicide attempt. However, it indicates an existing problem, which means if this emotional problem is not treated promptly, the risk of suicide also increases. Additionally, it is essential to note that the patterns of injury when a teenager is distressed may increase the risk of suicide. For example, self-inflicted wounds may happen regularly and, at times, increase blood loss, increasing the risk of suicide. Additionally, some injuries may be fatal, increasing the risk of suicide. To reduce the risk of suicide, an individual or teenager with emotional and mental health problems must seek professional help.
Prevalence of Self-Harming Teens
Self-harming behaviors among teenagers are prevalent across all cultures and social and economic levels. It is hard to estimate the prevalence of self-harming behaviors between males and females. Generally, there are more young females engaged in self-harming behaviors than men.
Teen Self-Harm: Knowing When To Get Help
Most guardians and parents do not know that their children are engaging in self-harming behaviors because they do it in private or with their friends. Many people confuse self-decoration with self-harm. There is also a big difference between self-decora
ting and self-harm. It seems a popular fad among teens today to use body piercings and tattoos as a form of self-decorating. Teens who self-harm seek relief from emotional pain; they are not self-decorating.
Signs and Symptoms that Self-Harm is a Problem with your Teen:
- Cuts, scratches or burn marks on their arms, legs, and abdomens.
- Excessive rubbing of an area creates a burn.
- Finding knives, razor blades, box cutters, and other sharp objects hidden in the teen’s bedroom.
- Keeping sharp objects or other items used for self-harm on hand.
- Regularly locking themself up in the bedroom or bathroom following a bad day at school, negative encounte
rs with peers, and family conflicts for lengthy periods
- The family physician, a teacher, or other adult observes cut or burn marks or that the teen appears to be regularly removing bodily hairs
- The teen’s peers cut or burn themselves.
- Reports from a sibling indicating that they found blood-encrusted razors or caught the teen in the act of self-injuring
- Scars are often seen appearing in patterns.
- Excessive rubbing of an area creates a burn.
- The teens often wear long sleeves or long pants to hide self-self-harm, even in hot weather.
- Frequent reports of accidental injury.
- Relationship difficulties with others.
- Impulsive, intense, and unexpected behaviors and emotions change quickly.
- Talk of helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness.
Professional Treatment for Self-Harming Teens
The most effective treatment strategy for self-harming behaviors among teenagers is family therapy. A skilled family therapist can help improve family communication, teach conflict-resolution and problem-solving skills, and help foster more meaningful and closer relationships between parents and teens.
The other treatment strategy is support groups that teach teenagers effective coping and skill-building skills. The coping skills that the teenagers obtain from these groups will help them manage negative emotions and thoughts and cultivate healthier stress management activities.
How Can Teen Self-Harm be Prevented?
One of the effective strategies that can be used to reduce self-harm is having a healthy relationship between teenagers and their parents. In this regard, parents should spend more time with their teenagers and their family. There are various ways to improve this relationship can be improved. Some ways include encouraging open communication, compassionate listening, and showing love and support without judgment between parents and teenagers.
When to Seek Help for Self-Harm
Take all signs seriously. If your child or a student you know is self-harming, even if you think it is a minor way of self-harm, or if you have thoughts of self-harm or harming someone else, reach out and ask for help. Any form of self-injury signifies something bigger, and these stressors need attention.
Find a trustworthy adult, such as a friend, relative, health care professional, spiritual guide, teacher, counselor, or nurse at school. They can aid in your initial steps toward a successful course of treatment. Even though you might feel guilty and embarrassed about your actions, you can get helpful, compassionate assistance from people who won’t pass judgment on you. It’s alright, and keep in mind the adage, “You can’t get aid if nobody knows you need it.”
Self-Harm: Emergency Help
If you’ve injured yourself severely or believe your injury may be life-threatening, or if you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or 988 or your local emergency number immediately.
Also, consider these options if you’re having suicidal thoughts:
- Call your mental health provider if you are seeing one.
- Contact a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
- Seek help from your school nurse, counselor, teacher, or health care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or family member.
- Contact a spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.
Self-Harm Test Questions
If you need to self-harm, try asking yourself these questions first. Write them down so you can refer to them later and analyze your reasoning for self-harm.
- Why do I self-harm? Why do I feel I must self-injure? What has driven me to cut, burn, etc.?
- Have I done this before? How did I cope then? Did I feel the same way?
- What other paths have I pursued to ease my pain before now? Is there something else I can do, a self-harm alternative, that won’t hurt?
- How am I feeling now?
- How will I feel later when I am self-injuring?
- How will I feel afterward? How will I feel tomorrow morning?
- Can I avoid the problem that has driven me to this point? Is there a better way I can handle it next time?
- Must I self-harm?
Print this self-harm test and your answers and share them with your doctor, therapist, or counselor. Your insights into why you self-harm and how you feel about self-harm could be very helpful in communicating and getting treatment and recovery moving forward.
If you are interested in Jeff speaking in your school community, please visit website.
High School Assemblies and Teen Mental Health Speaker – Click here.
On December 14, 2022, I was invited to speak at South Newton High School in Indiana. 48 hours prior to my visit a high school junior had made that forever decision. He committed suicide. Just 48 hours prior to me visiting the school.
It was a late Sunday night that he took his life. The following day the teachers and staff were told before the students had arrived, but many of them had already heard. Word gets out very fast these days with social media and texting. The school handled it very well, but there was something else that needed to be addressed – Teen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention speaker, Jeff Yalden, was scheduled to speak and share his message for the students and staff, parents and community.
Teen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Speaker Coming to South Newton High School
The school administration and the counselor had talked. Only about 260 students in the high school. Small school. You can imagine the impact this suicide would have on this school community – students, teachers, coaches, parents and families. But what should they do with me. being already scheduled?
The counselor had called me right away and we had a wonderful conversation. I was willing to do whatever it took. I was even willing to come back in a month on my own expense, but I wanted to listen to what they thought and where they were. My initial thought is that my visit would be too early, but again, this is the work I do with schools in crisis. Nonetheless, I couldn’t stop thinking that they weren’t ready and this could not end well.
Research says the same thing. The students are traumatized and talking about it so early wouldn’t be healthy. They have crisis counselors on hand and support dogs. We left it for the day to sit on it and think about it. The issue was I was already scheduled and coming to the area to speak to three other school communities the Jasper Newton Foundation had contracted me for as well.
The Following Day . . . We are a GO!
The following day the school counselor and I spoke and it was decided by the school to still have me come, but it would be based on volunteer only. If the students want to come to the auditorium to listen they could. If they didn’t want to come they would go to the gym or any other area they designated. Great idea. Settled. Let’s get ready . . . I am coming to South Newton High School.
Although it was confirmed I would be coming now I felt the pressure knowing that this was a very raw situation I was coming into and students can be vulnerable. Glad I have experience, but this was too raw. I got this I thought and instantly, I realized and thought to myself, this visit and conversation isn’t about me, my story, power point, signs and symptoms, etc. This is about me serving my heart and listening to theirs in a safe space where there is no judgement and they can be heard. That’s all I kept thinking. I didn’t even prepare a speech for this. I just prayed and asked God to lead me through this day.
His Locker was a Memorial
My conversation with the principal and the counselor about the locker was what do the students need right now? How can they be heard, but to be mindful and to openly talk with those that were closest to him. I also suggested putting a time period on how long the locker stays up and when they take it down maybe do it together with his closest friends and his girlfriend.
I suggested they all do it together because this could help give them closure and they’re all a part of it. Then, spend time with the counselor and talk about how they felt and what doing that together meant to them. We all agreed that would be how they would handle it. The kids need to be heard and it needs to be talked about in a space that is safe, non-judgmental, and with respect where thoughts and feelings are validated.
Tough conversation to have. Who’s to say that what is right is right and what isn’t right is wrong? In a situation like this it’s best to think about what is in the best interest of the students and staff. No school administrator is ever given a certificate on how to handle situations like this. It’s an effort and decision that is made by more than one person, but always do what is in the best interest of everyone involved. They did and they handled it incredibly well.
What the Research Says . . .
Research shows that suicides tend to be contagious, especially among teens and adolescents. This is what is known as the suicide contagion effect. This effect is also what’s responsible for copycat suicides. In copycat suicides, victims are triggered by another person’s suicide and learn suicide-related behaviors from them. Suicide clusters or copycat suicides occur when news of the suicide impacts one’s social circle, and/or people identify with the suicide victim. In this case, a small school, most everyone identified with the young man.
Two Days after a Teen Suicide the Students came to the Auditorium
I remember talking to the counselor and mentioning that it being based on volunteers that she shouldn’t expect many students to come. Seriously, what student given the option to hear a speaker talk about teen suicide or go to the gym or library would want to come to the auditorium? Let alone, after one of their friends or peers just ended his life 48 hours earlier.
I arrived the school early to see and feel the energy by seeing the kids getting off the buses and entering the building. They had a donation box set up where the students could donate money and help the family with expenses. A few thousand dollars was donated to that box on this morning that I was there.
High School Assembly on Teen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
About 9:30am the announcement was made for anyone interested in coming to the auditorium please make your way down. I stood outside the auditorium with the counselor and some teachers and I thanked every student and teacher for coming. One-by-one in droves the students entered the auditorium. With each student passing by I got more and more nervous. I just kept praying and thinking to myself, “Just be the calm they need. Be the support they need . . . Be Presence!“
About 180 students entered the auditorium and sat quietly awaiting what was about to be said or what was to happen. To be quite honest, I think I was thinking to myself the same thing. It wasn’t about me. My job was to be ready, but I was SCARED. Because I knew that I had to be in total control of this situation and whatever was to come in the next few minutes to few hours.
No Introduction Needed
Everyone was seated. I didn’t want any introduction. It wasn’t about me or what was about to happen. The microphone was there and I just took it and staged myself up front. The teachers stood in the back. Students sat with their heads down and I started with, “I’d like to give you a gift. The gift I’d like to give you is the gift of time . . . “
Here is a quick video of what I did. It’s important to watch.
My first thoughts were to start off with a silent meditation. This was to settle them in and center them with calm while also earning their trust. Then, it was about me letting them know I cared about them and my heart was present with their thoughts and feelings. Three hours later most of them left for lunch, class, or wherever they needed to be.
When everyone filed out, I continued to spend time with the girlfriend and some of the students closest friends. We laughed together as they shared some stories about their friend. What a wonderful moment shared with laughs and tears. It was a moment that kind of gave them some closure for what they’re having to deal with.
Before I left the school I visited with the counselor, the school principal and some teachers. I thanked them for holding this space and for what they do.
What a great school that is a model for how a school should handle a suicide of one of their very own. No situation is ever the same. Be present. Hold space. Listen and allow your students and teachers to be heard. I’m forever thankful to serve another community.
Jeff Yalden . . . Teen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Motivational Speaker for High School Communities
If you’re interested in me coming and visiting your school community for a high school motivational assembly or teen mental health, suicide prevention, crisis intervention, please visit my website www.JeffYalden.com.
Teen mental health challenges and what parents need to know. Let it not be a surprise to parents of teens and our school communities that teen anxiety and teen depression has been steadily increasing and is cause for concern.
Resources are available for your child. Even though these resources are available for help, many teens end up searching online about teen mental health for answers that lead them down the wrong path. This is concerning that teens aren’t speaking up and asking for help. Instead they’re trying to find answers while searching irresponsibly. We need to do a better job talking about teen mental health to our youth.
Teen Mental Health: Who’s Their Trusted Adult
Today’s teens are afraid to speak up and ask for help. Perhaps, many of them might not even realize they need help and think that what they’re feeling is normal. You only know what you know, right?
Let’s take the clinical aspect out of the equation here when talking about teen mental health and allow me to talk friend to friend. I’d like to be non-clinical and address teen mental health as I see it on a daily basis.
Hi! I’m Jeff Yalden and for three decades I’ve worked with teens, school communities and mental health professionals addressing teen mental health and suicide prevention. Although, I am a counselor with an honorary doctorate degree, I like to think I am more of a relationship guy with my clients and I try and take the clinical and be non-clinical in my approach.
Thoughts and Feelings: It’s Okay To Talk
Our youth are struggling with their mental health and they need to know that having thoughts and feelings are okay. Thoughts are thoughts just like an arm is an arm and a leg is a leg. Thoughts are just thoughts. Feelings are more within the body and need to be addressed if they’re dark and painful. Nobody can help you if they don’t know you need help, so talking about thoughts and feelings is okay. If you don’t learn to speak out what you’re thinking and feeling you will find that you’ll end up acting out what you’re thinking and feeling.
Who is a child’s trusted and significant adult? Dr. Phil (I love him!), says, “the most significant person in a child’s life is that same sex parent.“ For many teens they don’t speak to their parents. They’re afraid their parents don’t understand or will try and tell them they shouldn’t feel the way they feel or they’re too young to feel this way. Parents are not listening and doing more self-diagnosing and trying to tell their child how they’re supposed to feel or not supposed to feel. Parents won’t validate their thoughts and feelings. Parents will be judgmental. These are many of the reasons teens are pushing their child further away from feeling comfortable communicating with the very adult they should be going to.
Teens Need A Significant and Trusted Adult to Talk To
Our youth need to have a significant and trusted adult whom they can talk to about teen mental health and other personal thoughts and feelings they’re having. Somebody who will be non-judgmental, respectful, will listen without trying to fix anything, and will validate and support the teen where they are with what that child needs in that moment of challenge. Compassionate listening. A trusted adult they can share their thoughts and feelings and if it’s not you then who?
Encourage your child to find and trust in this person. It can be a teacher, a coach, a counselor at school, their aunt or uncle, a friend’s parents, etc. It’s okay if it’s not you, but you knowing they have someone is what is important.
For our trusted and significant adults remember that holding this space or this teen holding you with such high regard is an honor to have their trust and respect. Keeping your conversations confidential is a must, unless, you are concerned the teen is thinking of harming themself or someone else. If you are concerned about their welfare you have a responsibility to speak to the parents and get the teen the help they need. Don’t try and be the hero, but be the responsible adult. Don’t react. Stay calm and listen, but you have to do the right thing.
Parents: You Can’t Ignore Your Child’s Mental Health
Too many parents are not addressing the mental health of their child and this concerns me greatly. Teen mental health is an epidemic we are still avoiding until it’s too late where we have to do something. If you are more concerned about your families reputation than the well-being of your child than you’re part of the problem and I need you to be part of the solution.
Teen mental health (mental health in general) needs to be less stigmatized and the conversation more normalized. We all have this responsibility to be more open and comfortable being uncomfortable talking about mental health within our own families and supporting other families. We all are affected by mental health.
Furthermore, think about this, five out of five people have physical health. Well, those with physical health also have mental health. That makes it more clear, right? Let’s do our part for our family, our community, our schools, and most importantly for our youth as a whole.
Parents: Recognize the Red Flags
Parents it’s important that you don’t take on the role of family doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist and self-diagnose your child. It’s imperative you address “red flags” early. Red flags are behaviors or emotions that you might see in your child that are out of the ordinary. It might be just your child acting out, but there very well could be other issues that are contributing to your child having a mental health challenge. Regardless of what you think or feel, take all signs seriously and address it right away.
Start by talking to your child about life, teen mental health, suicide prevention. Google teen mental health, teen anxiety, teen depression, etc. Educate yourself and take the responsible approach. The more proactive and educated you are the more likely you’ll be able to give your child what they need and help them to not feel like something is seriously wrong.
See something; say something. Know something; do something.
When you see something you need to say something. When you know something do something. Most of all, do your part to normalize the conversation and be open about talking mental health within your family and to your children. You’ll be thankful you did. Encourage your child to open up and talk. Let them know that talking about their thoughts and feelings is not a weakness and that it takes courage to talk and be vulnerable. Be the example and talk about your thoughts and feelings and show them it’s okay and that you end up feeling better talking it out. It’s great to have someone you can vent to without judgment.
Mental Health Challenge or Mental Health Crisis
A mental health challenge is where a situation occurs that affects one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Whereas, a mental health crisis is when this situation that affects one’s thoughts, feelings and behavior turns towards self-harming behaviors, thoughts of harming oneself or harming others.
Mental Health Challenges
Mental health challenges are a part of everyone’s life – it’s okay. I’m seeing that our teens are really struggling with coping skills and problem solving skills. As adults, we learned a lot about coping and solving problems because we were always involved and put in situations where we had to learn. Today, our youth are consumed by their devices and less active in sports and organizations. Isolation is toxic. Our youth need to recognize patterns that affect their thoughts and feelings. They need to learn to reframe and change the narrative. Also, they need less time on their devices comparing their world to the world people put out there. This comes with having a growth mindset and educating yourself further on mental health.
Mental Health Crisis
A mental health crisis needs to be addressed immediately and most certainly requires time, patience, and the help of a medical professional and/or a mental health professional. Don’t react or ignore this. It’s okay, but it’s imperative you don’t not do anything and hope it goes away. By ignoring it there is a real good possibility it will manifest and show up in other ways later in life. Always live on the front end of your or your child’s mental wellness rather than the backend, because if you’re parenting on the backend you’ll at some point with you had parented on the front end and been responsible and proactive. Don’t pave the road ahead for your child, but rather prepare your child for the road ahead. It’s up to you to give them the support and help then need to manage their thoughts and emotions.
Mental Health: Take All Signs Seriously
Again, take all signs seriously. See something; say something. Know something; do something. Don’t self-diagnose your child. Finally, just because you don’t have a mental health condition doesn’t mean your child won’t have one and it’s nothing you did. It’s not about you. It’s all about your child and address it early because we can live normal and healthy lives by accepting it, addressing it, and finding tools and maybe even medication to manage mental health conditions.
Social Pressures our Youth are Faced with Today
Growing up today as a teen is vastly different than it was five years ago, ten years ago, or thirty years ago and it will continue to be challenging. Also, parenting and teaching today is also different than it was in this 5 year, 10 year or thirty year time frame. It’s a different world and only getting more and more difficult to navigate. Let’s think proactive and being the victor and not the victim.
Today’s youth are facing something that we as adults don’t necessarily understand fully. The daily pressures at school and when our teens are home are really challenging because today they’re lacking coping skills and problem solving skills and spending too much time isolating.
Teens: Devices and Smartphones
Our devices such as tablets and smartphones have become our connection to the world making social interaction and communication something we don’t do anymore – even makes us feel somewhat uncomfortable engaging with others. It’s leading our youth and even many (too many) of our adults (parents) to isolate and spend far too much time on their own devices setting a poor example for our children. The problem is that as adults we should know better about the effects our devices and the chemical dopamine and addiction have on us. You can’t expect a child or teen to understand when their brains don’t fully develop until they’re around the age of 23-25 or so.
Years ago we got away with a lot. There weren’t cameras everywhere or people weren’t always on social media all hours of the day reporting everything they see. Today’s youth can’t get away with what we as adults were able to. It’s absolutely exhausting for today’s youth. They’re constantly on 24/7/365.
When your child says, “I’m tired!” It doesn’t necessarily mean, They’re tired and they need to go to sleep. It means they’re tired in ways sleep can’t help. Parents need to mandate off time and teach their children responsible behaviors with their devices and boundaries. Parents need to take their devices away from their children and certainly not let their children sleep with their devices. Important you understand this. Your child doesn’t realize the amount of time they’re on their devices and the effects of dopamine and comparing their lives to other people’s lives.
When a teen says,
“Mr. Yalden, I’m tired in ways sleep cannot help!”
What do you think it means?
How Many Hours A Day Should Your Teen Be Online
In my book, Teen Suicide: The WHY Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic, I said that 4-5 or more hours a day on your devices and you’re 70% more likely to have major depression in your life.
I’ll also say this, in the next decade we will see a 30% increase in teen suicide and teen drug and/or alchohol related deaths.
This could be a suicide attempt or just reckless behavior associated with self-harming behaviors and today we are seeing more boys than girls self-harming themselves. Pay attention and address all “red flags” accordingly. Don’t react and be emotional. Stop and think. This is a moment where your child needs you and they need you to understand it’s not you and it’s them asking for help but not knowing how or who to go to. I don’t want you pushing your child further away.
Research and the Teenagers’ Brain
If we’re to categorize teens today we’ve had Gen Y, Gen X, Gen Z, the Millennials and more. Now we have Furries and I’ve also said we have Generation SOS, which I politely call Generation Stuck on Stupid. Sorry. Think about that, teens are stuck on stupid sometimes with what they say and do. How they act and how they think. They’re teens. We were all there. It’s growing through life and figuring out who they are as we tried to figure out ourselves then.
I said I was going to take the clinical and be non-clinical, but I have to just add this . . .
There is a lot of research that says teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed until they’re about 25 years old. This is important to understand and critical to understanding the consequences of one’s actions and controlling their impulses.
Think of it this way, decisions that are made at younger ages, the prefrontal cortex is there to help with reasoning and helping the child understand cause and effect and what possibilities could happen. If the brain isn’t fully developed, they might not be able to fully grasp that concept of ‘if I do this, this is going to happen to me.’
Mass Shootings and School Shootings
Oftentimes, there is no explanation as to the reason for these violent acts mostly occurring by teenage boys or young men. There is a lot of investigators and researchers trying to determine why these mass shootings and school shootings keep occurring, but it’s unexplainable right now. We can speculate and theorize as we all do and there is truth to what we are thinking but let’s leave that to the findings of those doing the work to determine the causes.
I can tell you this, we live in a broken society and too many people are in pain and suffering from mental health conditions that are going undiagnosable and more importantly untreated by mental health professionals.
This is important for parents and parenting your child. This is important for our families. Would you agree that it starts in the home. It takes a village to raise our young men and young ladies. It takes a community that comes together and supports our families and the people. You can say church and God. You can say our schools. You can say what you want but it all starts at the very corp within the families four walls. We need to do our part and that is communicate and normalize the conversation around mental health. Let’s all silence the stigma and be part of the solution. We all matter in preventing the next mass shooting or school shooting. We all matter in preventing the next teen suicide or suicide.
Concerning Signs of Teen Mental Health Turning Violent
It starts with those “Red Flags” I’ve been talking about. If you recognize concerning signs, behaviors, or emotions it’s time you intervene and address it. Address it immediately. There are plenty of resources available, plus google and educate yourself by asking questions and finding the right answers.
One thing we do know is that pinpointing teen mental health conditions such as teen depression and teen anxiety turning violent isn’t so easy, because each case has to be evaluated on an individual basis because the signs are different for each and every person.
If a child or your teen is more reserved than ever before such as not talking as much, grades changing, changing of friendships or circle of friends, if you’re seeing drastic changes in your child, those are signs.
Reach out to Teen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Speaker Jeff Yalden: The Perfect Speaker for School Assemblies
If you’re a teacher in middle school or high school interested in teen mental health please contact Jeff Yalden at www.JeffYalden.com. If you’re a parent and you’re concerned about the well-being of your own child you can also reach out to Jeff Yalden by visiting his website www.JeffYalden.com and going to the parenting section of his website for resources, videos, or to book Jeff to work with you and your child.
If you know a teen struggling with a mental health crisis please do something with non-judgment immediately.
Who is Jeff Yalden:
Jeff started speaking to schools and school communities about teen mental health while he was in the Marine Corps stationed in Jacksonville, FL after he witnessed the suicide of one of his Marines.
Since then, Jeff has spoken in over 49 countries, all 50 states, and to every province in Canada. He’s inspired, educated, and given hope to millions of people live in-person and online media outlets.
From 2005-2012, Jeff was the celebrity teen and family life coach for MTV’s EMMY Award Winning Reality Television Show MADE. Over 85 million people watched Jeff transform teens and families on a weekly basis.
He’s a four-time bestselling author, TEDx speaker, mental health speaker, consultant, and advocate for teen mental health and families. Jeff is an avid golfer and yoga teacher and makes his home in Jacksonville, FL with his English Bulldog, Sugar Bear.
For more information, please visit www.JeffYalden.com.
Teen Suicide and School Administration: Let’s Not Be Critical of How It’s Handled!
I receive another message of how the local community doesn’t agree with how school administration is handling a teen suicide in their community.
Recently, I visited a school district and spent two days after this community had decided they needed to do something after another teen suicide and the suicide of a staff member. Two wonderful days with middle school students and high school students, staff, teachers, counselors and parents.
Then I get an email from a local pastor who is critical of how the school administration is handling or not handling the teen suicide. It’s not a secret that teen suicide is a major problem in our schools and an epidemic in America. Learning what to do and how to address teen suicide by school administration doesn’t come with a certificate of completion and in my professional opinion shouldn’t be criticized by anyone. I feel that our community of parents, local organizations, and community leaders should support our school administration and counselors and build relationships so that we have more people that can be available and more resources if called upon in the event of a school crisis.
Jeff Yalden Responds to Local Pastor
First, I want to say I have great respect for pastors and our community leaders and applaud anyone wanting to serve and help. With that said, this is a message from a local pastor in the community I recently visited. Pastor for 17 years. Thank you. I can’t imagine being liked by a community when a pastor stands in front every week and preaches. Sometimes you challenge people and people don’t like that. Seventeen years deserves an applause.
Pastor states, “Sadly, I feel the school has put it’s head in the sand for years and refused to talk about things or do much to help.“
I’ve worked with school districts for more than three decades mostly on teen suicide and teen mental health. I feel I can add to this and provide some understanding. I’ve worked with students, families, counselors, teachers, and school administrators to include principals and superintendents. I’ve also worked with many a local pastors and mental health professionals. To each and every person I’ve worked with I’ve walked away having learned from them and also having given my heart and soul to what they’re having had to deal with and educating them to be more prepared and present in the event they have a crisis in their school community moving forward.
I’d like to respond to any faith based leader or community organization that feels schools don’t handle student suicides accordingly.
Sign up to take Teen Suicide Prevention Online Course for School Communities (CLICK HERE).
I can certainly tell you that I’ve never met a school administrator who has his or her head in the sand and is avoiding dealing with teen suicide or mental health challenges in their schools. I feel that is a strong statement coming with lack of compassion and empathy.
I’ll tell you that many of our school administrators are overwhelmed and wanting to make sure they act accordingly so that they proceed in a manner that protects and supports everyone where they are and with what they’re all going through with thoughts and feelings. Consider also, school administrators have to protect the family, the staff and teachers, and the students. Legally, they have to check boxes too. They are overwhelmed and most school communities don’t have a protocol to follow. They’re working on it though.
Please give compassion and grace to our schools. Our teachers, staff members, coaches, parents, and school administrators need support from one another. Just as our students do. To criticize is wrong. To be supportive and advocate would be acting with grace and compassion. This is new to our school administrators and they’re all learning.
Principals and Superintendents Don’t Receive Certificates for Teen Suicide
One of the very first things I can tell you is that no administrator is given a certificate on how to deal with the loss of one of their students or staff members by suicide. Let’s have some grace and understand the pressure they feel when the principals and superintendent has to make decisions based on what they think is best for their staff, the families, and the students in the here and the now, but also as they all move forward as a community.
You’d be amazed at how many mental health professionals, doctors and nurses don’t even know how to do a proper suicide assessment. 85% of people who do assessments aren’t properly trained to do an effective suicide assessment and we are criticizing our school administration? I think that is wrong.
What could make a difference is how we all normalize the conversation and silence the stigma that would allow us to feel better about learning and educating ourselves with teen mental health and suicide. Do you even know the difference between mental health challenges and mental health crisis?
A challenge is when your emotions, behaviors, feelings and thoughts are being affected. Whereas, a crisis is when what’s being affected now results in a person wanting to hurt themselves or someone else.
Teen Suicide: An Epidemic in America
Teen suicide continues to be a serious problem that our schools are having to deal with. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24 years old. The leading cause of suicide amongst young people who attempt suicide is a significant mental health disorder, usually depression.
Amongst younger teens suicide is often impulsive. This is a result of feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, or problems with attention and hyperactivity. Amongst teenagers though, suicide attempts are mostly associated with feelings of stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment and loss. For some teens, suicide appears to be a solution to their problems.
Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. Please don’t self diagnose your child if you have concerns about their mental health. As always say, “five out of five people have physical health and five out of five people also have mental health.” Do not be ashamed and take all signs seriously.
Suicide Prevention in Schools
I feel that the one to two hours of suicide prevention in schools that has been mandated isn’t enough. With that being said, I’m thankful that our school communities are trying to do the best they can to incorporate mental health into their every day lessons. It’s going to take time, but I will tell you that we are making great improvement and I applaud our schools. Let’s all get behind them and show our support.
The first thing I tell a school administrator is that their number one priority is to take care of their teachers and staff members. It’s the teachers and the staff members that have to be with the students who are grieving. Teachers, coaches, staff know the students best and students are best in school being with their trusted and significant adults.
Also consider when a suicide happens and how that affects how a school responds. You have to understand that no suicide is treated the same. Whether it is a suicide that happened over summer break, vacation, during school hours, a middle school student or a high school student. People are affected differently and its effect on the school community is also different. Nonetheless, the loss of one of our students is crippling and emotionally heartbreaking for our school staff, friends, and most of all the families. Suicide is the most preventable form of death and we all have a responsibility to normalize the conversation and silence the stigma.
A school administrator has to be responsible for the messages that their teachers and students are getting and who is giving the messages. Being proactive as a school community doesn’t mean finding every local resource and inviting them into the school to talk about teen mental health and suicide prevention. Can you imagine someone coming in and not knowing how to address teen suicide and the consequences of their words, opinions, and how it’s perceived by the students and the staff? That happens all the time.
It’s not that administrators don’t want help, but in the case of dealing with suicide maybe less is more. Less is more because there are so many factors to consider and address. School administrators don’t have the experience or education, but they’re asking questions and reaching out to their local administrators in other communities as to what they might have done if they’ve had a student suicide.
If you ask me, a school administrator is dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. They’re not going to make everyone happy with how they dealt with it. What matters most is that they communicate and seek the professional advice from a close circle of experienced professionals.
A Pastors Role with Suicide in the Community
Every faith community has someone who has been affected by suicide in a personal way. Therefore, the topic of mental health and suicide has come into our churches and in my opinion our church community has a great responsibility to be talking more about mental health and suicide. We need more people to normalize the conversation and encourage their congregation to speak about thoughts and feelings. Again, silence the stigma.
Pastors and clergy members play a significant role as families and people move through the grieving process after a loss or a suicide. They’re anchors and a source of hope for survivors and people in recovery. A pastor must be supportive, compassionate, empathetic, nurturing, and a guide in helping people move forward. Pastors are a great source to the community and do very well for people in crisis. Pastors are a valuable support to everyone.
However, a title doesn’t make you the expert and the logical person to call when it comes to school administration and counselors. They’re good. They’re doing their best and our job is to support them doing the best they can with the information they have and protecting the school community.
That being said, here is my main point and the one tip I want to offer anyone wanted to work with their school community.
Build that relationship with the school administration, counselors, parents, etc. The time to say, “I’m a great resource isn’t after a crisis.” The time is now. Volunteer. Serve. Get involved. Attend events. Show your support. Get to know the staff. Now that you’ve done all that they’ll know who you are and in the unfortunate event of a crisis the school administration and counselors will know you’re a great resource and if needed will reach out to you. If they don’t reach out to you, you can reach out to them because they’ll know you and trust you to support them as needed. Build the relationship now so that you can serve when they need you the most.
In conclusion, what I want to say is that a pastor or anyone should try and contact the school administration and discuss ahead of time how they can be a source of help. Being proactive is building relationships. That is what is important and when that relationship is built our school community will know who they can call upon in the event of a crisis.
What a pastor and local organizations can do is support the school administrations and staff. Support your parents and the community (your congregation) as best you can. Be comfortable talking with your people about mental health and suicide. It’s important we all play a role in our circle of trusted friends and families. We are all a part of the much needed conversation to normalize the conversation around mental health and silence the stigma.
Together we can serve one another.
Dear parents and community of Suffield, CT:
Instead of doing a parent presentation on my visit to your community we decided I’d record a presentation for you. Parent presentations are tough to do with such busy lives and time. This is a great way you can learn about teen mental health and understanding your teens today. Please enjoy and feel free to share with parents you know.
Jeff Yalden visited Suffield, CT on April 1, 2022 to speak to the middle school and high school students about teen mental health and suicide prevention. He also pre-recorded a parent presentation for parents of teens and the community.
Please download by clicking the button and save it to your computer to watch the message Jeff shared with the community.
If you’re interested in Jeff’s new program for school communities and parents, please visit www.JeffYalden.com/Phoenix. This program is to help teens in crisis or facing mental health challenges. Your teen might not want therapy or to go to the emergency room. Jeff designed this online course to help your teen or student discover themselves and be okay communicating their thoughts and feelings.
Please visit www.JeffYalden.com/Phoenix. It’s coming soon!
COMING SOON . . .
You can’t live your best life anymore. People can’t think, reason, or act for themselves because social media platforms and the way algorithms are set up have you controlled and you don’t even know it, or maybe you do. Well, you probably should and I hope I can shed some light on how today’s algorithms are set up to put more distance between the American people and you more connected to those that have the same thoughts and viewpoints as you do.
Here is my Week 3 Blog Post. It’s on another channel I operate. I wanted to switch to my own personal page because I am getting more expressive as I am learning a lot more in our Introduction to Social Media class with Capella.
My Week 3 Blog Post: Then, I put it all on our Blog at https://heretomorrow.org/2021/12/04/here-tomorrow-is-presenting-to-the-state-leaders/
I want to shed light (objectively) of course on how algorithms today are designed to have cognitive biases that intensify homophily and contribute to isolation amongst people. I see this everyday in my work in mental health and depression which ultimately lead to the clients I see in my office thinking suicide is their answer because they’re feeling alone and a burden or disappointment in society.
Here are the risks if you’re not aware of how your digital footprint is being created and the American people are being divided. The phenomenon of social media networks is bringing about more bullying, hate speech, political extremism, and radicalization of terrorists, and stronger left and right wing groups.
As a professional speaker for the past 30 years I’ve spoken to well over 4,000 live audiences in 49 countries and every Province in Canada, not to mention all 50 states. One question, I have always asked is, “Who is the hardest person to get to know?” I hear whispers every time from people saying, “Ourselves.” Yes. Exactly. The Ancients say, “Know thyself.” We are terrible at this, aren’t we? Now the internet is making it that much harder for us to get to know ourselves.
The internet is getting to know you more than you know yourself. Everything about you can be computed from our Facebook likes (McCarthy-Jones, 2017). Machines are using our online data for a digital footprint that you’re not aware of. The result is that your online data knows more about you than your friends and family members. Artificial intelligence is using our social network data, and it’ll know even more. The new challenge is how to live in a world when others know you better than you know yourself. WOW! Think about that and you’re really f*cked, huh?
Gather around the campfire with people you don’t even know, but you do because you all share commonalities. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all brought you closer together because of all the data they have captured.
Being present online today comes with a cost personally and politically. You must decide if the benefits of being so present online outweigh the cost and control.
Social networking is addictive. The chemical dopamine is a drug that infiltrates the human mind saying, “I want more . . . I want more.” Before you know it half the day is gone and you’re still perusing Tik Tok videos.
Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, recently discussed the thought process that went into building this social network. He described it as being:
All about how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?Sean Parker, Facebook
To do this, the user had to be given:
A little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post . . . and that’s going to get you to contribute more.Sean Parker, Facebook
That is the problem today.
Years ago, algorithms were user friendly to keep you engaged and on the platform (2019). Today, it’s changed. Algorithms are for people who produce content consistently because you become a fan and express a liking to that user or content so you get more of that information. Now you and this content creator are shared likes and interests and ads are generated by the algorithms to produce revenue. The focus is on likes and dislikes for competition to sell and produce revenue. It’s about buying and selling.
That is why you are bombarded with consistent ads to keep you on the platform as long as possible and you’re being targeted with those that have the same captured data as you because everything is being recorded and documented.
You can’t think, reason, and act anymore because our social media platforms aren’t engaging in discussions like face-to-face connection. So, we are all in agreement with like-minded people because we aren’t not seeing other views from people.
In my opinion, we need to let the internet control us less. How do we do that?
You’re More Than an Algorithm
You can’t beat the algorithm game. However, you can be more objective and broaden your thoughts processes. Click on stories or links you might not normally read. Do some more research and fact checking. Have more of an open-mind. Be more willing to hear opposing views. Do not allow yourself to be put into a box. You can certainly enjoy being around the campfire with others who have different views and get along.
We need to keep control of how we want our world to be. Don’t get sucked in to one way thinking. You’re too smart for that.
YouTube. (2019, February 18). Social Media Algorithms for dummies. YouTube. Retrieved December 11, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbyrHM7y5u8.
McCarthy-Jones, S. (2017, December 8). Are Social Networking Sites Controlling your mind? Scientific American. Retrieved December 11, 2021, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-social-networking-sites-controlling-your-mind/.
Hey my friends . . . This has been a rough year for everyone, but especially for teenagers. Many have missed out on experiences that define the teenage years – things like prom, homecoming, and even just defining who you are in a group of friends. Covid has caused more problems for teen mental health than we can care to think about. Here are 3 Tips to Boost Teens Self-Esteem.
I’m Jeff Yalden, teen mental health and suicide prevention expert with Here Tomorrow in Neptune Beach, I’ve been working with schools and school communities for the past thirty years. Teens are my love and passion.
Listen, a teenager’s social-emotional development is also hinged on their brain development, hormones and neurotransmitters.
Erik Erikson’s theory of development says that it is during this time that an adolescent will begin to develop and question their own sense of self. In this day of social media, it is becoming more difficult to find who you are and where you belong. Teens are inundated with images that speak to their worth and comparison of others.
A pioneer in social media and the psychology of its impact on esteem and mental health is Jonathan Bertrand. Bertrand’s position is that social media use has a profound impact on the development of self and often interferes with mental health and esteem-related issues. Combine that with Erikson’s work and you have a bit of a potentially disastrous combination.
With that being said, I want to share with you 3 Tips to help teens boost their self-esteem.
Tip #1: Avoid excessive exposure to social media
More than 4-5 hours a day . . . 70% more likely to have major depression and other mental health conditions. So, when possible, eliminate or really reduce the use of social media. Let me add emphasis to social media being recognized as part of one’s self-esteem issues.
Here is the deal, If your teen struggles with body image, lifestyle comparison or feelings of inadequacy then social media may be a piece of that puzzle.
Here is what I am suggesting . . . Setting some limits, like turning off all technology a couple of hours before bed and limited overall time on social media. Trust me, this is a good place to start.
However, this might be difficult as you get resistance. You might then consider having some conversations about social media and its impact and invite your teen into the conversation rather than it being a lecture. After 24 hours, you’ll think you have a new teenager.
Tip #2: Use thought stopping
Another strategy is to use thought-stopping. Here is what that is. We cannot control a thought when it comes into your head, but we can control what we do with the thought. Don’t hang on to a negative thought. Instead, say ‘stop’ and think of something else. Over time this will help to create new neural connections in your brain instead of circling the negativity drain.
Helping teens understand they can have control over how they handle thoughts is a powerful way to build self-esteem. Think of it this way, situations become thoughts. Thoughts become feelings. Feelings become behaviors. Stop the negative thoughts. Another term for this is Behavioral Activation. If it’s not right . . . Change the thought.
Tip #3: Build mastery
Find an activity that you enjoy and work toward building mastery. This will not only encourage you to find a group of people with similar interests, but it will also build your sense of worth within yourself and within the group. Start by sampling some things that you have a a little of interest in and explore them. If it is a sport, commit to the season. If it is a new hobby or club, give it at least 3 months of your time. Building mastery is a great way to solidify your confidence.
Put down the devices and get more involved.
Contact Jeff today. (CLICK HERE)
Renowned Teen Mental Health Speaker and Teen Suicide Prevention Expert gives you a FREE Suicide Prevention and Inspirational Talk for your School.
During this 50 minute talk Jeff engages in the conversation of mental health and suicide prevention talking about signs to be aware of and how you can intervene and how you can best intervene.
Jeff talks about the importance of relationships and what to do between someone in crisis having a thought and the person making a decision. The key in this moment is to deescalate the situation by bringing down the anxiety and heightened emotions in the moment. The worst thing to do is trigger further anxiety to the person in crisis which can produce an emotional reaction. Jeff talks about this moment and how best you can be that person that saves a life and gets the individual the critical help they need in these very important moments.
Youth Mental Health Motivational Speaker
For nearly three decades, Jeff Yalden has inspired school communities with his mental hydration, mental health awareness, and teen suicide prevention talks.
Here is a FREE 50 minute Teen Suicide Prevention Course for Schools. This is an inspirational talk from Jeff talking about how one person can save a person’s life by giving them hope and listening.
Learn how to ask and spot the signs of someone in crisis. This video is not intended to trigger thoughts or feelings, but to inspire the conversation, and to intervene when you notice red flags or suspect something isn’t right.
It’s FREE . . . (Click Here).
High School Motivational Speaker for Virtual Presentations
“Last night I prayed, “God, help me,” before getting into bed. My plan was to leave the dorm after my roommate was asleep. I fell asleep. When I woke up this morning, I went to class figuring I could try again tonight, but instead I came to your talk and I met you. Your story gave me hope, encouragement. I’m going to reach out to counseling office tonight. I can’t thank you enough for what you did. I think you were there for a reason and I’m glad you were.”– Friends for Life, Mike
Interested in Jeff speaking to your school community but concerned about the pandemic? No worries, Jeff does a lot of virtual presentations connecting right into your classrooms. Bring Jeff live for a conversation with your students and staff through zoom. Email Jeff today (Email).
Teen Suicide Book for Schools and Instruction
Jeff Yalden is the author of Teen Suicide: The WHY Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic (Click Here)
Getting Married in Myrtle Beach
Getting married in Myrtle Beach and you want the perfect wedding officiant to make this day special.
Well, look no further! Meet Jeff Yalden who can officiate your perfect wedding in the Myrtle Beach area and the state of South Carolina and/or can renew your vows.
Let’s not worry on your wedding day. This is your big day.
Let Reverend Jeffrey officiate your Myrtle Beach wedding. Message him today (Email).
About Reverend, Jeffrey
Meet Reverend Jeffrey, Officiant of Weddings in Myrtle Beach and the state of South Carolina.
Jeff Yalden has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity Degree from Universal Life Church and the signature of the Chaplain.
Reverend Jeffrey loves to serve and loves people.
Jeff Yalden Professional Speaker & Education Consultant
Professionally, Jeff Yalden is a mental health and suicide prevention consultant for the
past 30 years working with school communities and the military. You can find out more about Jeff Yalden by visiting www.JeffYalden.com.
Myrtle Beach Wedding Officiant
Imagine the beautiful beaches, sunny skies, and there you are getting married! This is the perfect setting and what better place than sunny beautiful, Myrtle Beach. Reverend Jeffrey Yalden provides simple, affordable and a memorable Wedding Officiant for your Myrtle Beach Wedding services.
Reverend Jeffrey can be your Wedding Officiant and Minister for your wedding day then he is available to perform your wedding ceremony and assist for your rehearsal. Reverend Jeffrey serves weddings at all the resorts and country club settings, including his favorite settings, beach weddings.
Here are some of the venues that are most popular for Myrtle Beach Weddings . . .
North Beach Plantation, Beach Cove Resort, Kingston Plantation – Embassy Suites, Brighton Towers, Hilton Resort, and Seawatch Resort, Grande Dunes Ocean Club, Grande Dunes Marina Inn, Grande Dunes Golf Club and Grande Dunes Marriott Resort, Island Vista Resort, Train Depot, Springmaid Beach Resort, Clarion Inn – Waterway, Holiday Inn Surfside Beach, Gulf Stream Café, Sunnyside Plantation, Wachesaw Plantation, Brookgreen Gardens, Litchfield Country Club, Litchfield Golf and Beach Club, Litchfield Planatation, Pawleys Island Chapel, Pawleys Plantation, Caledonia Golf Club, Heritage Club, Debordieu Golf Club and Beach Club. Other popular wedding venues we serve are Conway Riverwalk, Upper Mill Plantation, Thompson Farms, Wild Berry Farms and Hidden Acres.
Virtual Leadership Presentation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Louisiana
Inspiring the Future: Boys and Girls Club Staff Leaders
This is a very special opportunity for me. I get to speak to those that lead the youth through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Louisiana and beyond. I think the Boys and Girls Clubs of America is an outstanding program that serves young people throughout America and gives them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Being a staff member and knowing how strong of an influence you have is really important, but sometimes it is forgotten. This position carries a lot of responsibility that should never be taken lightly. It’s everyday that you never know the seeds you’re planting.
On this day, May 28, 2020, during a pandemic, I get to share my message about leadership and influence to the staff members who will be mentoring these youngsters. I am very excited and honored.
Power Point Slides: Boys and Girls Club LA PDF for References, May 28, 2020 Presentation
Jeff Yalden (Email)
Website: (Click Here)
On Demand Life Courses for Youth & Adults (Click Here)
Motivational Posters: Posters Motivational+PDF’s+2019
FREE Link School Community Teen Suicide Prevention Course: https://jeffyaldenuniversity.clickfunnels.com/access32545464/9a6d8752c7c
FREE Meditation Course: https://jeffyaldenuniversity.clickfunnels.com/optin1586289965594
Teen & Family Life Coach: https://jeffyalden.com/teen-life-coach/
Teen Suicide Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2M6QCB
Best of Jeff Yalden Videos:
- TEDx Talk – https://youtu.be/nP_xXPvJctI
Tippicanoe Valley High School – https://youtu.be/rpfVjoYAgik
- Barnard, MO – https://youtu.be/KAKnjeFyRR0
- High School Speaker: (Click Here)
- High School Motivational Speaker Videos: (Click Here)
- Teen Mental Health & Suicide Prevention in High School: (Click Here)
- Teachers and Staff Speaker: (Click Here)
- Teacher Staff Development Playlist Videos: (Click Here)
- Teen Suicide Behaviors & Responding in Crisis: (Click Here)
- Why Teens Self-Harm: (Click Here)
- Reference Letters (Click Here)
- Jeff’s Brochure (Click Here)
Visit Jeff Yalden University for More Courses for Teens and Families (Click Here)
Thank you for letting me inspire you with the light within me and I hope this light shines through you onto others.
Jeff Yalden (Email)
Why You’re More Qualified in Suicide Prevention Than Most Mental Health Professionals
Yes, you just read that correctly. I’m Jeff Yalden and I’ve been working in Teen Suicide Prevention and Suicide Prevention – Teen Mental Health for nearly 30 years.
You’re about to read the lack of suicide prevention training our mental health professionals receive that is mandated or suicide prevention training our professionals are taking that is on their own time and money.
You’re about to understand how within minutes you, whether you’re a mental health professional, a parent, an educator, coach, pastor, or a friend can save the life of someone showing suicidal ideation.
Suicide Prevention in teens and adults isn’t rocket science when saving a life of an individual who is showing signs of suicidal ideation. In suicide prevention, what you do in the very early moments of crisis can save a life and prevent a forever decision.
For more suicide prevention training for your school community, click here!
Unqualified in America for Suicide Prevention, Yet Trusted with Suicidal Ideation Crisis Care
In February 2015, I spoke two days in a community that had 9 suicides in one year, including four in six weeks. Since my visit, they haven’t had a suicide.
“The Jeff Yalden legacy will live on in our community for years to come.” – Brett Boggs, Retired Superintendent, Akron, IN
We need more school based suicide prevention training for staff and students. (Click Here for more training).
Another day in a school community addressing students, staff, administration and meeting with counselors and having to do a suicide assessment of a teen only to send them to the emergency room to be evaluated by a medical professional who isn’t qualified. Another day where I am left disappointed, discouraged, but still hopeful. I will not give up on the broken system. I will not allow myself to cave into a system of professionals where I hear, “Jeff, I don’t know what to do!” If I do allow myself to accept this than I am as much a part of the problem as I am the solution and I can’t live with myself knowing that I gave up on people when for the past 30 years this has been my work and love.
Our Mental Health Professionals are overwhelmed and Receive Little Training in Suicide Prevention
Time and time again, I am working in a school as a youth mental health motivational speaker. After my talk, I work with the counselors to visit with students and sometimes staff members that want to talk. Sometimes (more often than you can imagine), a person comes with some serious suicidal ideation and sometimes homicidal ideation. The checklist is checked off and I’ve confirmed with the individual they are clearly at-risk of making the forever decision and knows they need help. I always want the individual person to take ownership and want help rather than forcing the need for help.
Most schools have a policy that if an individual is suicidal the parents or
guardians are called and asked to go to the emergency room or a 3rd party mental health professional and have a suicide assessment done before returning to school with a safety plan. I don’t like the word safety plan either. I prefer to call it a success plan.
This is not suicide prevention sending a student to the emergency room.
The issue with this is that when an individual leaves the hospital they’re not required to share with the school counselors or administration what the mental health professional (the person doing the assessment might not be trained in suicidal behaviors or risk of suicide), has given as far as a safety plan for the individual returning back to school.
If you’re a parent or individual and you are more concerned with your reputation than your wellbeing shame on you. This is nothing to be ashamed of and you being safe and a plan of action to follow is in your best interest and will be supported by those that really matter. Your school counselors, teachers, coaches, and administration are trusted and significant adults who can give you hope, support, and encouragement. They deserve to be trusted in what you need and together we can find resources that can help the person in need of care.
At the onset of the issue, remember, a person in crisis needs someone to listen to them without being overwhelmed, judgmental, and/or trying to solve the individual’s situation or emotions in that moment. Just deescalate the situation and give hope.
We can all do that by showing we care and because you know the individual and you intervened or they have come to you I believe you’re more qualified than a person with no mental health suicide prevention training. 58% of suicidal people have had no record of mental health care treatment or been given a diagnosis. So, it’s concerning to me to send the individual who is already scared to someone they don’t know who isn’t even qualified to make an assessment many schools or workplaces require.
Therapy: Why are Therapists rarely Trained in the Prevention of Suicide?
We are constantly telling parents that if your child is suicidal take them to a therapist and yet outside of psychiatrists, the majority of mental health professionals have very little to no formal training in how to effectively treat suicidal individuals.
Why is Suicide Prevention so Complicated?
If a parent or school counselor doesn’t have the answers we say, “See a therapist,” but our therapists (too many of them) don’t have the answers either and this isn’t fair when it comes to the well-being of the person we send off for an evaluation.
Every campaign around suicide prevention and mental health awareness says the same thing, “See a therapist.” Or, “Reach out and ask for help.”
While I don’t disagree with saying, “Talk to someone” and getting people struggling with mental health related emotions or suicidal ideation to speak up and ask for help, my greatest concern is comes with some basic questions that need to be answered in our communities:
Are we sending these individuals (now with more anxiety and fear) to people who aren’t qualified and are overwhelmed now depending on the depth of the situation of the person in front of them?
Are we providing the adequate care and support in our responsibility to refer to person to the right professionals?
Why don’t we have more training available?
Are we helping or hurting the individual?
Specific suicide prevention training is not commonly offered as part of college curriculums, optional post-graduate training on suicide is limited as well. This training is costly and time-consuming and really interested to people who’ve had experiences with suicidal ideation in their pasts or have been traumatized themselves. Furthermore, I’d say as much as many therapists aren’t aware that they themselves even need the education.
I was speaking on teen mental health and suicide prevention in West Fargo, North Dakota in December of 2019. Very tough audience and I ended up asking a question and one of the counselors said, “We already know this, why do we need to be here?” My audience was the school counselors, school psychologists, administrators, and school resource officers. I was dumbfounded by the question from a school counselor. More education to understand teen mental health is not something we should shy away from or be so ignorant to think we already know.
More concerning, after I left the community, I got a message from the local mortician who had attended my evening talk. At some point, during the evening after my talk, a local young man who had recently graduated made a forever decision. The next morning the mortician came to work having to deal with the reality of the conversation the night before and the reality of a school counselor saying, “We already know this . . .”
We Already Know This . . . Why Do We Need to Know More?
If we already know this we don’t know it well enough and we need to know more. We need to want to talk more about mental health awareness and getting people to feel more comfortable speaking up and talking about their feelings. We need to educate people on being okay not being okay, but not being okay and not talking about it isn’t okay.
You are not alone and shouldn’t be ashamed. You matter and what you are feeling right now is most likely temporary, but nobody can help if they don’t know you need it.
Don’t Treat Problems You Don’t Know
This is an ethical standard in any profession but also should be common sense to any person who cares and is compassionate towards others. You don’t treat problems you don’t know anything about. You ask for help and do your research, but ultimately find the answer and do the right thing.
But, what is the right thing when it comes to the lack of resources and trained professionals for people who are showing signs of being suicidal?
One of my mentors and trusted clinical psychologists I’ve learned and continue to learn from says, “Everyday thousands of untrained service providers see thousands of suicidal patients and perform uniformed interventions.”
If your son or daughter needed individual and personalized coaching for their chosen sport you wouldn’t trust in a random person opening a storefront that says, “Individualized Coaching for Your Students Athlete.” No, you’d probably want to read some reviews, references, make a few phone calls, etc.
Then why is it okay that we are not qualifying our service providers with their care for others?
Is it training? Is it insurance? Is it the stigma? What is it and why are we allowing this when teen suicide and teen mental health is an epidemic that needs attention and the right resources to help our communities?
Stop thinking that you are sending (someone who shows suicidal ideation) you care about to a therapist and because they’re a therapist, they’re skilled in how to address the risk of suicide. Nothing is farther from the truth and we could be making matters worse. Essentially, not helping but hurting the individual further.
In 2019, numbers of completed suicide had risen just slightly from the year before, but still statistics aren’t accurate because drug overdoses and accidental deaths; who says they weren’t suicide attempts. Nonetheless, since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed to a little more than 35%. This continues to be very concerning and deeply troubling especially to me when I work in consulting with school communities and mental health every day.
Finding a Therapist if you’re Suicidal
The training for mental health practitioners who treat suicidal patients – psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and others – is dangerously inadequate.
Combating suicide requires a holistic approach that includes the community, families, educators and our religious leaders all working together. The challenge is in society who has placed the burden of caring on suicidal people on a mental health workforce who is underprepared to help those in suicidal distress.
Mental health professionals have no national standards that require them to be trained in how to treat suicidal people. Whether it’s during their undergraduate work or during their career they are not required to get training or to be trained in suicide prevention. For the most part, they have to want to pursue training on their own or if they do get training it is limited and not consistent on a regular basis with more information and continued education credits.
Currently, only a handful of states mandate training in suicide assessment, treatment and management for health professionals, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Having someone on your side that gets what you’re going through, that can advocate for your needs, and that gives you the space to talk through your thoughts is a game-changer.
We have these trusted professionals within our communities. We have them within our schools. They’re called teachers, school counselors, coaches, parents, and friends. Peer to peer relationships matter. Relationships between adults and our children matter. Here is where it can be deescalated and hope given in the here and the now which puts time between a situation that triggers emotion and the possibility of a reaction on emotion that could be a suicide attempt or a suicide succeeding.
Within our schools, our trusted teachers, coaches, and counselors are more than qualified to listen and be a source of hope to the person who may be suicidal. But, if we quickly send the individual off to someone they don’t know we are making matters worse as anxiety increases and their unhealthy thoughts continue to think, “Nobody cares about me.” We can’t allow this to happen.
Teen Mental Health is Different Today Than Ever Before
Two questions need to be answered:
- Can I trust you?
- Do you care about me?
The American Psychological Association and the Council on Social Work Education, which accredit graduate programs in psychology and social work, have standards to prepare graduates to treat patients in crisis but do not require specific competencies regarding suicide. This needs to change and perhaps be more of a requirement, but then again, who is qualified to teach such a course if very few of our professionals are even qualified themselves?
A report from 2014 on guidelines to improve training among the clinical workforce, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention assessed the state of education by sending surveys to 443 academic institutions. Of those, 69 responded, and 70% said no specific training for suicide was provided.
Why out of 443 educational institutions did only 69 respond? Of the 69 that responded did 70% say they have no specific suicide prevention training is provided? Why is this acceptable? Who is stepping up to the plate in our schools across the country to say, this needs to change? This needs to be addressed and on my watch I am going to make sure our students, staff members, and families know we care about them all.
I am blaming it on us all because we are either part of the problem or we are part of the solution to a better world where we are safe and bringing up great leaders.
I work as a mental health motivational speaker and educator providing education and hope to school communities all over the world. I don’t get applause. In 30 years, I haven’t received a medal or a trophy for my work. Occasionally, I get the, “Oh, your work is so needed.” Or, “You must be so fulfilled knowing how much a difference you make.” Yeah, that is nice, but why can’t we all not be afraid to talk about our stories and to speak more openly about mental health? Why are we living with shame knowing that if people know we might be looked at differently and judged?
This is a conversation that needs to happen in every household in every community and every school district, but it shouldn’t have to be the full responsibility of our schools and the great adults that inspire our youth every day.
We need more parents parenting and being involved and invested in their kid’s lives and the family unit. We need less parents wanting to be friends with their kids. We have responsibilities as parents to raise our kids in a family that loves and unconditionally is supportive and caring for their needs.
Suicide Prevention: Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes
The American Association of Suicidology paper written in 2012 cited decades of studies that underscored the training gap in suicide prevention, and many experts say not much has changed in the last several years since this paper. Another concern not addressed and given more attention.
This paper stated that about half of psychology students receive formal classroom training on suicide during their graduate education. Only 25% of social workers receive any suicide prevention training. Marriage and family therapists had even less training. Most psychiatrists receive some instruction, but many experts agree it’s insufficient.
Talking about suicide shouldn’t be a difficult conversation and make a professional feel overwhelmed in the moment. Actually, this conversation is reducing the anxiety of the individual in distress because they’re talking and you the professional, you’re present and giving hope as you allow them to share what they’re feeling.
How you proceed from here is what concerns me and I am very concerned about how our schools have written policies and procedures for a student showing strong suicidal ideation.
Yesterday, I’m speaking at a school in Indiana. I’m with a school counselor counseling a senior who was 18 years old. This individual had every reason to be concerned including blacking out and being bloody, even from the night before. Scared to be alone. Every method of self-harm present on the daily including self-medicating, reckless behavior, banging head against the wall, cutting, and so much more.
As we called the parent after giving the student a choice; I said, “Either I have to call your father or the police, what do you want?”
Dad came in and we suggested what he should do, but no insurance.
At the end, I deferred it to the counselor because this was now a school policy issue. Can the student return to school with or without an assessment at this point? That was my question.
The counselor allowed the student to go with dad and nothing was going to prevent this student from returning tomorrow to school. No written note. No safety or success plan. Conversation had and off to go home to dad who this person stated was part of the problem they were having – abusive.
I had a talk with administration, head of guidance, and school resource officer after school. I had mentioned this is a gray area in school districts throughout the country. I said, “What do you think about this? What do you think you should do?” The head of guidance looked at me and said, “Jeff, I don’t know what to do.”
I am sorry, but you’re the head of guidance and you don’t know what to do is not acceptable and in my opinion if you’re over your head then you need to ask for help and put together a committee to assess the situation, rewrite the policies and procedures, and have a plan of action including what to do in the event of a student or staff suicide.
If you don’t do anything than nothing is going to change. Be the change and help give resources and support to your students and staff in need. That is our responsibility along with being mandated reporters.
School Safety Plans and Written Policies and Procedures for Suicide and Mental Health
There is a lot of talk about school shootings and what to do in the case of a shooting on campus. We have great security now with doors locked, visitors signing into our schools and providing their license, metal detectors, and more. We’ve done a great job protecting our schools, but we are failing on protecting our students and staff with mental illness.
If you are a school superintendent or building principal you have a responsibility to visit your students success manual and make sure you have written resources, policies and procedures that show your schools policy for mental health and suicide prevention. Not only the students and staff need to know what to do in the event of care or crisis, but also the parents need to be able to access this information.
This information needs to be accessible and easily found. It should be on the school website under resources, it should be given out in newsletters, and resources should be accessible in the main office, the counselors offices, the school resource officer, and the school nurse should all have copies they can share or email at moments notice.
Do not wait till after the fact where you end up having to do it out of necessity. Do it now and be proactive so that in the event, you can say you’ve done your best and continue to learn how to serve the wellbeing of your students.
This is a great responsibility to school administration and our elementary, middle schools, and high schools. This is also information that our colleges and universities should adhere to as well. As a matter of fact, I strongly believe that our state department of education in all 50 states around the country should mandate revised policies and procedures for all our schools with required mental health and suicide prevention training available for all staff and students annually.
Check out Jeff Yalden’s Suicide Prevention Course On-Demand for School Communities (Click Here).
Psychiatry and Suicide Prevention for Suicide Ideation
If you ask me, “Jeff, what should I say to a student, friend, family member in crisis?” My first response is to get this person to a trusted adult that they have a relationship with. Someone they trust and respect immediately. From here, let’s talk about professional help with your family doctor, therapist, counselor. Definitely take immediate action and take all signs seriously.”
You don’t want this person alone. In the moment of crisis you want to de-escalate the situation immediately. Put time between the thought and an action based on emotion.
Then, I’m concerned because I want to say, “Get to a psychiatrist as soon as you can.” But, I know that is usually a 4-6 month wait. We only have about 3700 psychiatrists in the country. Not nearly enough to address the mental health crisis our country is facing.
We only have about 3700 psychiatrists in the country. Not nearly enough to address the mental health crisis our country is facing.
I say a psychiatrist because they’re the only ones that are supposed to cover the topic of suicide during their training and course work.
Sending a person to a psychiatrist gives you some assurance that they know something about it, but you can’t say that for any other mental health professional and that is concerning to me when I am seeing the seriousness of mental health in our schools.
The burden that mental illness is placing on our educational system and our educators is too much and without proper training they’re over-whelmed and burnt out.
Advocating for a Person who is Suicidal
If you choose to wait the 4-6 months to get into a psychiatrist you are taking a calculated risk and are not putting the need for immediate attention to the matter. I highly recommend you don’t wait. Get on the list, call your family doctor, social worker, therapist, or whomever immediately and start the process. It’s the best thing to do in the moment and it’s working towards the care needed. Do everything you can to advocate for yourself, your child, your students, friends, family member, or neighbor.
Know this though, many of suicidal people have great experiences with therapy. Some of the therapy didn’t go well for one reason or another. While some therapy may have been lifesaving.
For those living with mental illness, therapy is like bathing, it should be routine and consistent. Maybe not as consistent as bathing, but depending on where the individual is it could be weekly, bi-monthly, and every two to three months when we know the once suicidal person is doing better and we trust they can do the work they’re required to do for their self-care and wellbeing.
“Having someone on your side that gets what you’re going through: feelings and thoughts, that can advocate for your needs, listen to your heart, and advise you without being judgmental and validating your feelings; someone that gives you the time and space to talk through what you are feeling and thinking is a total game-changer to the person in crisis.” This half-an-hour or hour can be what saves the life of a person that is suicidal.
Who is capable of giving a suicidal person this is any trusted adult, friend, teacher, counselor, school administrator, coach, or parents. As Doctor Phil says, “The most trusted adult in a child’s life is that same sex parent.” I agree, but to those young bloods that don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents, I believe any trusted adult in the child’s life can be that source of hope and support.
All these trusted adults that work in our schools need to know how to talk to a student in crisis or a student showing signs of suicide. Our teachers and any person hired by the school to work with students should also feel comfortable and capable in these moments of crisis.
Learning how to be this significant adult in a child’s life isn’t hard, but it’s not being mandated and the fear of addressing it because of the lack of training and knowledge makes today’s school administrators avoid rather than want to learn.
Be the voice and presence that shows a suicidal person they matter and you care.
Take Jeff’s Course on Teen Suicide Prevention . . . Available for all Staff, Teens, Coaches, and Support Personnel (Click Here)
How to Make a Suicidal Person Feel Less Suicidal
Contrary to what you might believe, most people living with suicidal thoughts say that when they found the right person or therapist, clinician or doctor, coach or teacher, someone who didn’t overreact and who made an honest effort to understand their pain, they felt less suicidal.
Less suicidal and the situation in the moment was de-escalated because this person sat down judgement free and listened in the space that made the person feel safe and heard. Before anything else matters, this is a moment that a suicidal person needs.
Whomever this person is, understand that they have their best interest at heart and cares more than just keeping you alive. This person, who probably knows the suicidal person whereas a therapist or emergency room doctor doesn’t, wants to help the person in crisis find a life worth living and to be there while they’re having trouble in the here and the now coping or problem solving though something they might think is the end of the world.
Be present. Be the light in the moment they feel so much darkness. Deescalate and listen with an open heart that shows you care and you want the best for this person.
I love working in education. I love our teachers, counselors, coaches, administrators and parents. I love speaking on mental health in schools and want every adult to know that you don’t need to be scared because you think you don’t know how to help. Know that the student in front of you doesn’t want to die either. They want a reason to live. They want to know they’re not alone and that someone cares as they share the burden or disappointment they feel.
Today’s youth especially, I strongly believe they don’t want to die. One of the issues I see is that today’s youth live so in the here and the now that when they have a problem they think it’s the end of the world. They see that the solution to their problem can’t be handled in the here and the now, but it might take time; days, weeks, months, or maybe this has ruined their life.
Life is not in the here and the now. Mistakes happen. It’s how we grow. Our youth need to know that perfection doesn’t exist and it takes courage to make a mistake and regroup. We grow from our mistakes and what we go through. Nothing is the end of the world.
Parents, teachers, educators, counselors, coaches and youth pastors are more than capable and qualified to help a person who may be suicidal, but know that you still have a responsibility not to leave the person alone, but to know what you should do now. It’s not over and you don’t want to leave the person alone.
A Suicidal Situation De-Escalated What Now
Breathe and know you did a great job and possibly saved a life. Also, let the individual know you are proud of them because it took a lot of courage to share and talk.
If it’s a child the parents need to be contacted and suggest resources of mental health professional care from this point forward. Work with your school counselors to have a success plan and get this student on the school radar where they’ll have support and care.
If it’s an adult contact the immediate family or significant other. Same thing, have resources available and encourage them to follow through for the best interest of the person in distress.
90% of the underlying factors to someone who is suicidal and showing suicidal behavior is mental illness. This mental illness comes in the form of anxiety, stress, overwhelmed, too high of expectations, coping, problem solving skills, depression, bi-polar, or something else that may have or even has been diagnosed.
You can always go to the emergency room or call 911. You can always call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-248-2781 or Text 741741. These are definitely places to turn to, but know that in the moment, YOU knowing the person eases their anxiety and calms them down and the sacrifice on you is just time and patience. You have a better chance in the initial moments and if you’re feeling over-whelmed contact someone immediately for help and/or you can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline with the person. Just don’t react. Don’t leave the person. You being there and showing you care and your calming presence does more than you can imagine. I believe in you and the value you can bring to this moment.
Therapists are Lost when it comes to Suicide and Prevention
Imagine this for a moment, a suicidal person meets a therapist and what do you think they’re expecting? They’re expecting the person sitting across from them wants to understand their suffering. That is not the case, at all.
A more common feeling amongst therapists, counselors, and trusted adults is the moment they realize their sitting with a suicidal person is panic and they go from fight to flight themselves.
Now the panic is that the individual might try to kill themselves and could succeed and would they get sued or as a therapist maybe lose their license. The go-to all too often is to send the suicidal person to the emergency room.
You have this person who has come to you, but more than likely doesn’t want to die, but they don’t know what else to do and they’re desperate for help. Perhaps it’s taken days, weeks, months, or even years to have the courage to ask for help from a professional or someone and now this professional is saying, “I can’t help you. You have to go somewhere else. Like the emergency room.”
That can be very harmful and discourage the suicidal person further and give up.
Mental Health: Emergency Rooms and Involuntary Hospitalizations
Research shows that sending the individual to the emergency room or involuntary hospitalizations – triggered when a mental health professional believes someone is at imminent risk of killing themselves – can increase a person’s risk of suicide.
Here is where I want to encourage you to hold off and prioritize time and patience first. Then, focus on de-escalating the feelings and thoughts, and be able to get to a comfortable conversation where you can listen and offer support.
Here is where I am always successful depending on the severity of the situation. In the case of where I know the person needs a mental health assessment and probably a time out and a psychiatrist, I follow protocol, and I hate this because I know what happens. However, the point I want to stress is that I always communicate openly and honestly with the individual because if I am expecting them to trust me I need to be very open and honest in what is going to happen. I explain that this is what is right and in their best interest and I talk to them until they are on board and agree with what I am suggesting.
I do all of this after I have deescalated the situation and calmed them down a lot.
When the individual can have ownership and agree to the professional and mental health care they will take it more seriously, be honest, and be more willing to do the work. I never fail when I go this route. During this process, I am with them and sit with the person while parents are called and explain it through. If it’s a student who has a boyfriend or girlfriend or a really close friend, I will sometimes (with permission) bring the friend down so the person has their supportive friend with them. They never want to be alone. Remember, being alone feels to them they don’t have meaningful relationships and this support can be of incredible importance in their success through their care and afterwards.
Any person sent to the emergency room against their will and has psychiatric disabilities or mental illness, having had trauma, or is in crisis, this can be a trigger that could be the straw that breaks the camels back.
The emergency room can be the worst place for a person who is suicidal.
The emergency room is loud, patients are hurried in and pushed out with little to zero emotional support and maybe care.
There is no training, for the most part, for the emergency doctors, or the nurses to help a person showing suicidal ideation and having a plan.
Can you imagine?
But this is where we are sending our people in great distress.
It’s like, “I don’t know what to do so let’s send them to the hospital where it’s better than my help, because I don’t know what to do and I’m panicking.”
You don’t send your car to someone who isn’t a mechanic. You don’t get a manicure or pedicure from a foot doctor who knows how to measure your feet for orthotics. We don’t bring our dogs to people who specialize in cats. We don’t make fancy dinner reservations at a breakfast joint, right? Come on, man.
The Suicidal Person Needs Two Questions Answered
Do you care and are you showing it? Great. Don’t panic and react. You are meeting the individual where they expect you to be even if you are not qualified.
Can I trust you and are you giving the time the individual needs to calm down and get help?
Great job. Breathe. You’ve done good. Now, we can move forward in a calm manner.
Look, even if the therapist doesn’t panic or over-react, that doesn’t mean they know what to do next or how to help.
I remember once, I was working with a school therapist hired by the school at $500 a day – four days a week. Yes, you read that correctly.
While working with a student who had suicidal ideation this therapist made the student “promise” that he/she would never do anything to hurt herself.
That in principle is great, but if it were that easy the person wouldn’t be coming forward asking for help.
As the very last resort, the very last resort, you can make the person sign a document that you both create, like a contract, that says, “I will be here tomorrow. I will not make any decisions based on emotions. I will make the phone call (lists phone numbers) if I feel unsafe.”
At the very last resort you can do this. Exhaust everything before this becomes the go-to.
Remember, you are de-escalating the situation with someone you know more than any mental health professional who isn’t trained in suicide prevention who will probably do something that is worse than your kind heart and caring soul.
Don’t Kill Yourself, but WHY does the Individual Want to Die in the First Place
Don’t react to them wanting to kill themselves. Try finding out why they might want to die first.
In all my suicide prevention training in schools, I find our educators avoid the conversation and question of suicide all together. I also find with therapists and counselors the same thing.
Ever notice that when suicide is mentioned or mental health is being talked about the conversation gets really quiet? Yeah, because of the stigma and shame associated with the topic of mental health or suicide. Let’s change it and change it immediately. These conversations can be uplifting and doesn’t need to be talked about with shame.
I ask in my suicide prevention training programs in schools what the fear is about asking a student if they’re thinking about suicide. I come straight out and ask everyone. The most common answer is, “I’m not qualified to help them.” Or, they say, “If I ask them and they say, ‘Yes. What do I do then?”
Imagine this, many therapists have dropped clients who’ve been suicidal in the past because they’ve felt they were unable to tolerate the intensity of their pain and desire to want to die. Pretty concerning. Again, the time it had taken to reach out and ask for help and then they’re being dropped.
Some advice after 30 years of working with students and schools and addressing mental health and suicide in teens is that you can be compassionate and empathetic, but you can’t carry their darkness. Be present and engaged and show your love and support, but at the end of the day, you have to not carry the burden of this all being on you and you being responsible for them staying alive.
Another problem with mental health professionals and therapists is they’re so fixated on trying to predict how likely the individual is to kill themselves that they’re not present and listening as they should be. We’ve got to commit to spending the necessary time, patience, and listening to why they are hurt or feeling the way they’re feeling. Listen to what they’re asking. Listen to what they need.
A person who is suicidal is trying to share the depth of the pain in their heart – the depth of their despair.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re suicidal. It could mean they don’t see a way out or that they have to take this situation one day at a time. Let them know it will be okay and this is not the end of the world. Patience in the process. Perfection doesn’t exist.
We waste too much time trying to stop the person from killing themselves instead of finding ways to understand why they might want to die in the first place.
Do You Want to DIE?
That’s the question that tells you what you need to know, but too many people aren’t just afraid to ask this question, THE DON’T KNOW HOW TO ASK THE QUESTION.
I’ve visited and worked with more schools than I can count that have hired me after a suicide or multiple suicides.
One of the first things I want to know from a teen suicide is what they’re doing at the school in terms of suicide prevention or mental health awareness for their students and staff. Most of the time, I hear, “Well, that’s why you’re here. We need to start having the conversation.”
What I know is that we are a society of people who don’t know how to treat people who are suicidal. We don’t know how to ask the suicide question and we are afraid to ask.
When I do my teacher suicide prevention training and talk teen mental health I’m very proud of not having had one suicide after my visits to these school communities.
I praise and validate the importance of teacher and student relationships, school culture and climate, and giving these adults the tools to address their students who might show signs of distress and how to intervene on their level and to answer the questions that their students are struggling to even understand themselves.
Remember, you’re a teacher, a coach, parent, aunt, uncle, school nurse, or whatever you do. You are a good person. You are good-hearted and you’d be crushed if one of your students ended their life and you’d look back saying, “If I only knew, I could have said something.” Remember, you can’t carry the burden. Also, how are you supposed to know the individual was hurting if they’re not willing to talk and share?
Start the conversation before the crisis happens. It’s imperative our school communities start addressing teen mental health more openly and regularly.
Every day is an opportunity to say something meaningful and impactful. Let’s not wait to when we feel they need to hear our words.
Wouldn’t it be great if we were all kind and showed love to everyone each and every day? It’s the smiles, gestures, and the kind words that make a difference. It’s being compassionate, nonjudgmental, present, engaging, and seeing the best in others that makes a difference.
I’m not concerned with you assessing the situation and managing the risk in front of you. I just want you to know you are more than qualified to show your heart to someone else and let them know they matter while putting time between the now and what could be a forever decision.
Visit Jeff Yalden’s On-Demand Suicide Prevention Course for School Communities (Click Here)
This is a Teen Suicide Prevention On-Demand Course for all school staff and even teens that should be mandatory in every school. When we are not pro-active we become forced to be reactive and if you haven’t lost a student to suicide you don’t want to have to go through that.
The Big Picture of Suicide in America
Mental health professionals see suicidal patients throughout their careers and some very often, yet so few mental health professionals seek specialized training on suicide prevention.
If mental health professionals do want training it can be hard to come by especially if you live in rural North America, but I don’t agree that is the case. Some of the best therapies aren’t available for training in small groups, and those that are, require a lot of time and money. That prevents many from getting more education around suicide prevention. Again, I think that is an excuse and the lazy way to look at it.
With the technology we have today, education is basically free. Let’s not confuse memory with intelligence. You know what you know, but you don’t know what you don’t know.
If you really cared and wanted to educate yourself to be more of a source of help for your clients or students you can make a commitment to educate yourself by reading books, taking courses, google, and YouTube. With a little motivation you can invest in learning more without paying for it and waiting for training to come around.
Suicide Prevention isn’t mandatory for our professionals and I find that very sad and disturbing.
One of the most effective approaches to treating suicidal patients, CAMS – Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality, says that in the absence of training, many clinicians spend most of their time trying to treat a patient’s underlying mental illness, rather than asking the person, “What makes you want to kill yourself?”
A teenager for example, why are we diagnosing teens when their brain isn’t fully developed and given all the hormonal, emotional, psychological, and physical changes; and social media today with overwhelmed feelings, expectations, and so much more; don’t you think it’s better to treat the symptoms and not look for the causes right now?
Get to know the individual and listen to their heart.
The two questions our youth ask today is:
- Can I trust you?
- Do you care about me?
They don’t come home from a long day and say, “Mom and dad, can we talk?” No. They come in the house get to their room as fast as possible and continue to isolate themselves where they’re comfortable and they only wish you’d come through the doors asking, “Honey, how was your day?”, being nonjudgmental and present.
Suicide Prevention Data from Center Disease Control and Prevention
In 2018, Center Disease Control and Prevention published data stating 54% of people who died by suicide had no known mental health condition.
Too many people are living with mental illness but not doing anything about it. Is it the stigma? Is it the shame and embarrassment? Is it being stubborn? Could it be the lack of resources available or the length it takes to get an appointment? Or, it’s the lack of trust in mental health and the feeling that we’re over medicating people? It’s all this and more, but regardless if you are going to live a healthy life living with mental illness you have to be your best advocate.
It starts with acknowledging the fact that you have a mental health condition you have to accept and choose to educate yourself. Don’t be the victim. Choose to be the victor. Don’t be bitter. Choose to be better.
What I am saying is very few people are trained to understand the depth of people’s individual suffering and with lack of knowledge and the ability to reach people where they are with patience and non-judgement is a major problem we need addressed.
Mental Health Specialized Suicide Prevention Training Impacting your Well-Being
Most people don’t get that specialized training is important to your well-being as a practitioner and without specialized training helping your clients or students can significantly impact your own mental well-being crippling you and sending you on a leave of absence or a change of job profession.
I can’t begin to tell you how many teachers, counselors, school administrators, school psychologists are no longer in the educational field working with students anymore because of the second-hand trauma. Too many to tell and many of these people I am still in touch with today.
Counseling clients and students has to be done with compassion and empathy, but to not be carrying the burden of their feelings, thoughts, emotions.
You can’t own what they’re going through, but you can listen, support, and give hope by giving tools to cope and problem solve. You can support them on the brokenness they’re living with and how one day at a time they’re willingness to do the work themselves will help them come from where they are to where they need to be.
Ultimately, they have to do the work with the help of you and more professional help.
How Therapists are Hurting Their Clients and our Youth
Every day I hear how therapists are frightened of treating clients with suicidal ideation. They’re screening patients who they think are highly at risk because they don’t want to treat them. They’re scared and don’t want to carry the burden or the liability themselves.
Clinicians are also afraid of the liability, but the concern is far less real than most mental health professionals think.
Personally, I think if you are more concerned about the liability than you’re probably not in the right profession and really concerned about the mental well-being of clients who are trusting in you and your profession. Only you can answer that question.
If a family who is grieving the loss of a family member or their child brings about a lawsuit, most cases bringing a lawsuit against you are not successful. Facts are not always persuasive when the undesired outcome feels so catastrophic.
In the state of Colorado (which has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation) a mental health survey showed many do not think they need more training, but desire it, according to a 2018 article in the Journal of Public Health Policy.
It found providers reported being “generally pleased with their existing training and felt prepared to address suicide within their practice,” though 80% supported mandating suicide-related continuing education.
Continued Educational Training for Suicide Prevention Helps Therapists Care for Their Patients and Themselves
Too many therapists feel the overwhelming pressure when confronted with the immense amount of pain a suicidal person is feeling – wanting to help; but fearing they’re not capable.
In this moment between you the professional, teacher, parents, or clinician and the client think:
- The suicidal person is safe in this space and you are their light
- Breathe and be present
- Between their high emotions and taking action is time and what is important is you are putting space between them thinking and acting slowly reducing their anxiety and deescalating their emotions.
- Gain their trust and let them know and trust that you care.
You’ve just won and perhaps saved a life.
From here. Follow protocol and follow through.
With continued education you will constantly be taught new tools you can use, methods of deescalating the crisis situation, and gaining control of the situation.
Although you might think you know how to respond, continued training can always teach you more and reiterate what you already know validating your work.
Don’t discount the emotional pain this takes. No matter how professional and prepared you are with experience, remember, you’re a therapist because you’re emotionally sensitive and have a great ability to connect with people. Add the training to be even more of a sensitive person and now you’re put in a room with someone who has the kind of pain and despair and shows behaviors that put them at great risk of dying by suicide and it’s easy to lose your bearing.
Any training provided or training you get on your own only benefits you and your clients.
Suicide Prevention Training and Continued Education
Talking suicide and addressing suicide risk is not something that is a one and done kind of training.
This is such a difficult conversation emotionally with serious consequences that people are going to feel unprepared and ill-equipped if they are not engaged in an ongoing way.
Our schools are starting to do a great job of mandating suicide prevention in our schools, but they’re far from where they need to be. Once a year training isn’t going to solve and save lives. This conversation, training, and continued support should be at least once a quarter made mandatory for every person who works with teens.
Unless you yourself seek out your own specialized training and continued education, and most people do not get this or take it upon themselves, it will become painful for you and impact your well-being. I see it happening every day and it ends up ruining lives, careers, families, and takes time to come back from this trauma.
Consultation Team Managing Stress and Burnout
Another highly effective treatment approach for severe suicide risk is Dialectical Behavior Therapy and with this treatment approach there is a consultation team to help manage the stress and burnout of the therapists.
Why do we not have these consultation group meetings in all our professionals where people manage people having traumatic experiences or living with mental illness and suicidal ideation.
I believe this approach should be mandatory for all mental health professionals and mandated for law enforcement, our military, churches, first responders, firefighters, doctors and nurses, and school personnel.
We need to start talking and sharing our feelings so we can help one another with the traumatic experiences being dealt with day in and day out. Until the stigma is silenced and people start talking we are going to continue to see no improvement in our communities.
Personally, having dealt with school communities and teaching suicide prevention, and watched suicides happen, having someone to talk to is invaluable to my continued success working with teen suicide and helping our school communities save lives and helping after a suicide.
Having someone to talk to is a crucial part of one’s self-care. As therapists we need to heed our own advice. Take care of yourself first. Self-care. You can’t pour from an empty pitcher. Self-care is not selfish. You matter and your mental health hydration matters.
This work can be very isolating and lonely. Being able to hear from others and relate with their experiences can be so helpful and so healing in ways that exercise or date night can’t give you.
A System Broken – Nobody Cares
For years and years the system is broken and inadequate training has long been documented but nobody is changing the system or putting efforts where efforts are most needed.
We need to take teen suicide prevention and mental health more seriously in America and our schools.
Our government is putting millions of dollars towards the suicide prevention, mental health and the opioid epidemic, but who’s accounting for the money and making sure it is used effectively?
I believe that the money is giving a lot of people jobs with titles and cushy comfortable desks, chairs, and a nice corner office with a paycheck, but few people are on the ground doing the work. Too much delegating and forming of committees, but nobody doing the work we talk about in the meetings. Very sad. I see that everyone has the answers, but nobody wants to do the work.
Let’s stop all the talking and meetings and start implementing plans, procedures, policies, and trainings. Stepping up the suicide prevention game should be a priority for our government.
In my early days when I was just learning and starting my focus on mental health the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention said that it was critical that “mental health personnel receive appropriate graduate school training on the suicide while preparing for their professions.” This was back in 2001.
Twenty years later, experts say that not enough has changed. Not enough has changed and while we watch the suicide epidemic continue to grow we are still saying, “What are we doing?”
The answer is simple.
We are doing a lot of blaming and not enough talking and taking action.
Suicide Prevention Conversations Start at Home
It starts at home. Parents should not be diagnosing their children. Parents need to take all signs seriously and educate themselves on teen suicide prevention and mental health. This includes the dopamine effect from screen time, social media, and too much time in isolation.
It’s also in our schools. We need more teen suicide prevention and mental health support in our schools and also improve the relationships between our schools and our families. We’ve got to work together for the best interest of one another.
Our family doctors are not mental health therapists or teen suicide prevention physicians and shouldn’t be diagnosing or prescribing medication (long – term) for their patients. A family doctor could treat the symptoms for seven to thirty days, but make it clear that a mental health therapist and/or psychiatrist is essential to the wellbeing of the child. If you don’t believe in therapy or counseling, medication and such, also educate yourself on natural remedies such as exercise, nature, food, essential oils, meditation and being involved.
Therapy and medication is a game changer. Taken together is best. If it’s one or the other, therapy gives you tools to cope and problem solve while medication puts a band-aid on the illness.
Then, it’s the individual who does the work for themselves. Continued education on Teen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, exercise, daily practice of self-care, learning mindfulness, breathing, and relaxing techniques to help you through your own emotions. Again, put time between the thought and the action is most crucial in the moment of crisis.
It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to not be okay and not do anything about it.
We can blame it on the system or we can take it upon ourselves. To blame it on the system solves nothing. To take responsibility and advocating for yourself, your family, your school is being responsible and you’re more likely to get something done and working. It takes a combined effort.
How We Can All Support Mental Health
Be open to talking more and engaging in conversation about suicide prevention and teen mental health. Continued education for your school and community is very important and will save lives.
The American Association of Suicidology has a report on gaps in mental health training and suicide prevention. They’ve made several recommendations for improving care. This is good and must be followed through state by state.
The report states that accrediting organizations must include suicide-specific education as part of their requirements so graduate programs have the training in their curriculum.
Also, state licensing boards, must require clinicians be competent in suicide treatment.
And the report also says government has a role to play by requiring that health care systems receiving state or federal funds ensure their mental health professionals are trained in suicide risk detection, assessment, treatment and prevention.
Other experts also say clinicians have to overcome their fear of not knowing who may live or die. Who is going to live or die shouldn’t be the thought in the middle of the open room where you are being trusted by this person asking for help. Be present and focus on the individual in front on you. Focus on deescalating the emotion and calming the situation. Create a plan of action and move forward. When this is our primary concern and before they leave your office you’ll know they’re feeling better and we can only pray they’ve been giving the tools, even if it’s only temporary, that they’ll take it one day at a time, but that they’ll also continue to seek help and receive treatment weekly.
As in all cases, if they’re in the middle of an emotional breakdown and considering suicide, make sure they have a Safety Plan such as 911 or go to the Emergency Room. They can call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or chat online.
The Crisis Text Line also provides free 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
There is great responsibility and I understand. You’re worried about your livelihood and your family, your license, and more. However, we have a responsibility to protect the person and give them what they need and that is your professional experience and training. We have to be able to see past the risk to do what is right for our patients and students.
Finding a Therapist with Suicide Prevention Specific Training
Look for a therapist who specializes in evidence-based suicide prevention techniques such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Suicide Prevention or Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality.
I know you’ll be have a tough time finding this person who is specialized, but if you do, it’s a good lead for you. Not everyone who is trained is listed and not everyone who is listed is currently trained and up to date.
In certain cases of suicidal risk, being informed versus uninformed therapy can be the difference maker in saving a life or a death by suicide for someone who cannot bear their suffering any further. Job specific training is critical.
A well-intended and competent therapist who does not know how to effectively treat a suicidal person can result in the most tragic mental treatment outcome possible.
Finding a Psychiatrist and Make an Appointment Quickly
The profession of psychiatry (depending on where they go to school) requires psychology students receive formal education training on suicide during their graduate education.
The actual research shows that only half of psychology students receive this training.
Only about 25% of social workers receive any suicide prevention training.
Marriage and family therapists get even less suicide prevention training.
The exception is psychiatrists, most of whom get some instruction on suicide prevention.
Think about this . . . Suicide Prevention ten years ago is very different than suicide prevention today and with our youth.
“I’m Suicidal!” What should I do?
If you’re a patient, and you are suicidal, consider not saying so right away.
Here is why. The word ‘suicide’ can scare off a therapist even if they hear the word ‘suicide.’ Especially if they haven’t had adequate training to properly assess for risk, so they rush to involuntary hospitalization which in some cases make matters worse.
Research shows involuntary hospitalizations — triggered when a mental health professional or counselor believes someone is at imminent risk of killing themselves — can increase suicide risk.
When seeking a therapist who specializes in suicide here is some advice that can help you. When talking about suicidal thoughts always talk in the past tense, even if you’re currently living with them.
Here is an example:
- I’ve had suicidal thoughts in the past and I want to know how you approach that?
- What could I feel safe sharing?
- When do I need to worry you’re going to involuntarily commit me?
Slowly ease into full disclosure when you trust that you are safe with this therapist or counselor. I would also highly encourage these questions be asked during during a phone consultation or initial session.
Here is an example:
- “How would you handle it if someone disclosed suicidal thoughts during a session?”
- “What training have you had in working with self-harm?”
- “What are your thoughts about someone who dies by suicide?”
Having an initial session is for the therapist and also the client. The therapist
if the work is within their competency, and for the client to decide if that therapist is a good fit for them.
Even if someone doesn’t have suicide-specific training, it could still be a good fit.
It’s about the quality of the relationship that matters. It about a connection of trust, nonjudgment, and rapport.
Find a Buddy
Looking for a qualified therapist (suicide prevention) during a time when you’re suffering can be a significant emotional burden. Experts say it’s best if someone who cares about you is also part of the process, so you don’t have to navigate it alone.
If you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts: Make a Safety Plan
Choosing a therapist is a privilege many suicidal people don’t have. Some suicidal people can’t afford help. Many live in rural communities where there’s a limited amount of practitioners, or long wait lists for care.
If you don’t have access to the care you want right now, there is still help available:
- You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or chat online.
- The Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness has support groups for people living with mental illness.
Mental Health Speaker & Suicide Prevention Expert, Jeff Yalden
On February 26, 1992 at 0738 in the morning, Jeff Yalden was witness to a Marine suicide while stationed at Cecil Field Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, FL.
This moment changed Jeff’s life. Thirty years later, Jeff Yalden is one of the leading experts on Teen Suicide, Suicide Prevention, and Suicide Prevention Training and Mental Health Speakers in the world.
Jeff is also the founder and executive director of The Jeff Yalden Foundation, Inc. (Click Here). The Jeff Yalden Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 organization that focuses on Teen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in School Communities.
Jeff is also renowned as a teen mental health motivational speaker and mental health speaker. He speaks to teens, teachers, parents, and mental health professionals on teen motivation and mental health and mental wellness.
Personally, Jeff lives in Myrtle Beach, SC and loves the beaches, boating, yoga, and being in his Wood Shop, Wood Times. He’s a 200YTT Certified Yoga Teacher.
Contact Jeff if you’re interested in Jeff visiting your school community and speaking or doing a Teacher Staff Development Talk. Whether it is LIVE or on ZOOM, Jeff is always engaged and fun to listen to.