What To Do

Important! Knowledge of a suicidal child falls under child endangerment and must be reported per RI law.

Please follow your school protocols for emergency planning. Not sure about your school’s plan? Have you seen it? Are you trained? Ask your principal for more information.

If a child presents him or herself as depressed or suicidal, please tell your school’s guidance department, nursing and student assistance program personnel.  Get involved!

What is the first step I can take to help?

What a suicidal student most needs is to be listened to, not lectured or advised. Don’t try to offer solutions or try to make them feel better. What a depressed or suicidal student most wants is to feel safe with you, to know that you can be trusted, to know that you care. He/she needs a person who will say, “I care” – and show it by not talking but by listening. Listen with sincerity and care, with interest and without judgment.

What should I say?

Begin by gently asking, “Is there something bothering you? I’ll be glad to listen.” The student might reveal something that happened at home, at work, school or in a relationship. You then might ask any of these questions:

  • “How did that make you feel?”
  • “Did that hurt your feelings?”
  • “What are you feeling, right now, this very minute?”
  • Remember; demonstrate that you can listen patiently.

What do I say next?

  • Tell the student that you care.
  • Tell the student that depression and related symptoms are treatable.
  • Offer to go with them to the school guidance, nursing or student assistance services. It can be difficult to go alone.
  • Tell them if at any time they do NOT feel safe to please call RI Emergency 911.
  • IMMEDIATELY tell appropriate school staff of your conversation – follow school protocols.
  • Tell the student he/she can also call The Samaritans of Rhode Island or visit the Teen Pages of this website to learn more about suicide prevention.

The Samaritans’ Role

The Samaritans maintains a 24-hour listening line manned by trained volunteers. Volunteers can offer nonjudgmental listening when family, friends and professionals are not available.

Note: The Crisis Hotline/Listening Line is open 24/7 depending on the availability of volunteers.