Suicide prevention note
Norman MacLeod (gaelwolf@MAGPAGE.COM)
Thu, 13 Nov 1997 13:37:27 -0500
It's been awhile since I weighed into the discussions here, but this is
a topic of more than passing importance.
I've seen some comments that are a bit troubling to me, and these
revolve around the concept that it is not a Scout Leader's job to
provide suicide prevention training and to be aware of the warning signs
for suicide potential.
Please allow me to quote from the Australian Scout Association's page on
youth suicide prevention:
"As long as there is an emotionally significant person
in the youth's life to whom the youth can relate, this
will decrease the likelihood of suicide. Many youths
are ambivalent about suicide and they turn to others for
help and support. The emotionally important person may
be a parent, a teacher, a close friend or a youth worker.
The person has become the life line to the teenager. The
presence of a good supportive network is particularly
important to those youths who have little or no family
I have known many Scouts, and you may know youth members of your own
Scout Group for whom one or more Scout Leader would be the emotionally
significant person they may come to, hinting at what they are thinking
of doing. All too often, they are not understood adequately, and go on
to make the attempt, or perhaps even succeed in their suicide attempt.
A little training can prevent a death. Maybe not always, but often
enough to make the effort worth our time.
Suicide, particularly youth suicide, is not a comfortable subject.
There is a lot to learn, and researchers are trying hard to learn even
more. There are some easily learned observation and intervention
techniques that lay people can utilise to work through the crisis point
with a suicidal youth, until he or she can be placed under professional
We can easily arrange for training of ourselves, other Leaders, parents,
and youth that will help prevent youth suicide. Training our youth
members is particularly important, because a disaffected young person is
more likely to voice intentions within the peer group than to adults.
Another voice often heard says, "I want to be trained, but I don't know
where to find the resources." Resources can include community suicide
prevention teams and professional counselors of one type or another.
I've put some Internet resources together for a preliminary web page,
which is available at the address at the end of this posting.
Youth suicide prevention is certainly something we can do, and ought to
be doing. Once we train our youth, not only will they be better
protected, but they will also have internal resources for catching
warning signs from their friends, possibly allowing them to avert
disaster in someone else's life that we may never come into contact
Isn't it worth a little time and effort to learn more?
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City