March 2019
Newsletter of the Center for Educational Improvement
Supporting Adolescents in Crisis
Considerations in Adolescent Suicide Prevention
Dear Educators,

When students are experiencing a mental health crisis, learning takes a back seat. Teen suicide rates have been rising at an alarming rate. This month, we explore why and how suicide is affecting different communities of teens. In conjunction with our work supporting the  Mental Health Technology Transfer Center of New England  with  Yale University's Program for Recovery and Community Health , we also provide some prevention and intervention ideas.
Understanding and Preventing the Rise of Teen Suicide
By Dana Asby & Christine Mason

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in 2016, 45,000 Americans lost their lives to suicide (CDC, 2018). Mental health professionals, policy makers, and the media are increasingly recognizing that suicide is a national public health issue that demands attention so that these preventable deaths can be abated. The rise in suicide rates among all Americans is alarming, with half of the states seeing a 30% jump between 1999-2016 (CDC, 2018), the rate of suicide for teens, particularly girls and African American youth, is especially startling.

While we know that the multiple factors leading to teen suicide can be complex, we also understand best practices to prevent suicidal attempts and where we must focus funding and resources to support those efforts. Read more
Connections between Addiction and Teen Suicide in West Virginia
By Suzan Mullane & Dana Asby

West Virginia,"The Mountain State," has been at the forefront of the opioid crisis. West Virginia’s overdose deaths from meth and opiates are the highest in the nation (The Economist, 2019). As a counseling trauma consultant, the word “crisis” seems inadequate to describe the parental addiction and collateral family damage plaguing the state.

Youth in particular are stressed from the abandonment and/or incarceration of a parent. At times, teens become the primary caretakers for the family. Ill-equipped to carry the load, teens often resort to self-harm, e.g., cutting themselves, due to grief and anxiety. Teachers often ask why teens cut themselves. Perhaps it's a cry for help, a stress reliever, or a way for the teen to feel something other than numbing hopelessness. The common thread is emotional pain from secondary trauma. When this pain gets ignored, the consequences can be dire.

Cyberbullying in the Information Age

By Daniella Rueda

Considering that we have been living in the Information Age since the 1970’s, it comes as no surprise that 95% of teens in the United States are currently active users of the internet and social media (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018).

Although some may rightfully argue that the internet and social media provide people with a range of beneficial opportunities by giving them a platform to voice their beliefs and opinions, we must not forget that with all advancements come disadvantages. Perhaps the most significant harm that stems from the nation’s exponential growth in social media use is, "cyberbullying." 

What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying can be defined as willful and repeated harm that takes place over digital devices and social media platforms. It includes sharing someone's private information to hurt or humiliate them publicly.

Improving Mental Health in Schools

T he Yale University Program for Recovery and Community Health  and the Center for Educational Improvement invite school leaders in the New England region to learn more about the Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative .

Applicable States:
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont

"What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself."
~Abraham Maslow

As educators who spend hours with our students each day, we must raise awareness of their mental health issues and how we can use compassionate communities to combat those issues. In this way, students silently struggling know that their school is a safe space where they can seek help. Make your school a place that uplifts students and connects them, and their families and communities, to the myriad of resources they need to thrive.

Christine Mason
Executive Director
Center for Educational Improvement