Suicide is now being covered in younger grades as a response to the social and cultural changes young people are facing. Suicide has also become a frequent online topic. The vital consideration for this curriculum is that it is presented in a way that is safe, helpful, accurate and not anxiety provoking.
Session 1 reflects the tendency of children to make fun of things that frighten or scare them. This session “Suicide isn’t silly” sets the foundation for continuing classroom discussions of suicide by acknowledging the anxiety that may come with these lessons. Session 2 “Friends help friends” begins to present the dilemma of knowing something is not right with a friend but not knowing what to do about it. Session 3, “Asking for help takes courage” builds on that theme and redefines asking for help as a character of strength rather than a weakness. Video clips in the last session acknowledge that asking for help for a friend might not be easy but demonstrates the benefits of doing so.
Death by suicide has become more of an unfortunate reality for youth in these formative years. The sessions begin with a question “When is a friend in trouble?” This can defuse the intensity of the topic for vulnerable students and allow them to ease into the discussion. The second session moves into action, asking “How do I help a friend?” Recognising the importance of peer role models, the content focuses on a video hosted by two older teens, that presents a series of scenarios to demonstrate how to identify and respond to a troubled friend. The third sessions topic is “Where can I go to get help?” with a short video that tells a true story of three eight grade boys who used what they learned in the curriculum to help a friend. The final session “How can I use what I’ve learned?” helps students apply the curriculum to real-life situations.
This two session unit focuses on helping students address the emotional challenges that come from dealing with the massive life changes that accompany graduation from High School. It briefly re-caps the grade 7-10 curriculum , however the difference in this unit is that it focuses on caring for yourself rather than for others and emphasizes knowing how to identify trusted sources for help outside the high school community. The concepts of self-care and social connection have been recongnised as increasingly important variables in emotional health and can b e covered easily in a two-class unit. Self-care and social connection are called “protective factors” because they buffer youth from stress. The self-care elemtn of the curriculum will help students identify their personal expectations for the futre and how they will handle the stress they may experience when high expectations for life after high school are challenged or unmet. Students will be proved with both hard copy and online resource to identify and address these stressors.