Jennifer Harris said even small changes in appearance or behavior can show signs of a student in crisis.
“How you dress, how you walk, how your face looks,” said Harris a suicide prevention trainer with Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.
“Isolation, withdrawal– that’s a hallmark sign.”
She said those verbal and physical cues are all red flags of a student who may be suicidal.
“In the school system, we know for sure that there are high-risk youth,” Harris said.
On Monday, she and others from TSPN trained Hickman County teachers, principals, and staff how to recognize those warning signs and take action, learning how to ask questions and refer students to counselors if they need help.
“‘I’m concerned about you, and I’m thinking are you thinking about suicide?’” Harris said. “That takes a lot of guts because you don’t know the answer that’s going to come back.”
Hickman County Schools is one of about 10 school districts getting the training from TSPN before the new school year starts.
School districts in Coffee, Davidson, and Maury counties already got the two-hour training.
It’s a tool teachers and staff say is much needed with school about to start.
“There are so many kids here dealing with so many different issues,” said Craig Shelton, a guidance counselor.
“A lot of times, I’ll have them just come to me and just cry on your shoulder,” said Emily Cross, a teacher.
“I feel like I’m better prepared now if I’m faced with that.”
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