What stops us from asking this life-saving question? “Are you thinking of suicide?’

A special guest post in honor of National Suicide Prevention recognition, by Phoebe Terhaar, the University of Washington’s Forefront in the Schools Program.

If you knew this question could potentially help save a life, would you be willing to ask? Most people have had no training or guidance in how to ask someone. This is especially true for teens, even though thoughts of suicide among youth are relatively common.

This lack of knowledge is slowly changing. In the last three years alone, 29 high schools across Washington state have reached out to Forefront Suicide Prevention for technical assistance in building a sustainable suicide prevention model that includes peer-led training, policies and procedures in recognizing and responding to students in distress and youth involvement.

Many students who lost friends and classmates have told me that this is the kind of change they’ve been looking for. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside these amazing young people in the depths of their grief and in classrooms where they are teaching their peers to ask with compassion, “Are you thinking about suicide?”

Everyone has a role to play. Everyone can learn to ask. How about you? Are you ready?

-Phoebe Terhaar, Forefront in the Schools Program

More information:

For more information about suicide prevention training, Forefront in the Schools program and how you can get involved in this important topic, go to http://www.intheforefront.org/

To see what youth are doing in their communities watch this video: