Suicide is discussed… in the classroom

Year 9 students have completed a presentation integrating video, text, images etc on an IT issue of their choice. A reasonably high percentage choose Cyberbullying as their topic. Inevitably, and possibly because teenage girls love “real life drama”, this leads to a few slides about consequences of cyberbullying including suicide. A typical story is the tragic story of Amanda Todd (above image and story). As part of their work students need to present to small groups and display some learning to the class. This inevitably leads to group and class discussion on teenage suicide – a discussion that is vitally important but one I am possibly ill equipped to facilitate. Fortunately many of the students have good suggestions including where to access suicide hotlines and what to do if cyberbullied courtesy of Netsafe.

So, while the debate on teenage suicide may not be in public, it’s sure happening in the schools.

 

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4 Responses to Suicide is discussed… in the classroom

  1. ruthandsteve says:

    It is too bad that every parent won’t be reading this.

    Like

  2. Philip Rose says:

    As a teacher, you should maybe be aware of a couple of things. Many experts have warned AGAINST talking of suicide at schools. I can supply you with quite a few references that say there is a usual spike in suicide ideation after talks – it’s a highly risky business.
    Secondly, you should be aware of what I might call the Pandora’s Box of using information regarding cyberbullying/suicide. The Amanda Todd story is, again, highly risky, in that many students will find out the backstory – online exhibitionism. drink, drugs, etc. And also note – the Amanda Todd story is almost completely fabricated. The true story is somewhat more complex – the true stories of cyberbullying are usually much more to do with mental health and/or parental dysfunction.
    For research, try Megan Meier (truly incredible) or even Jessi Slaughter (completely bonkers) but also note the ‘new’ findings of digital self harm (perhaps the case of Hannah Smith).
    But just be warned – suicide talk is dangerous territory (latest research in Denmark says some of the methods are counter-productive). Of course it is necessary for children to be educated, but talk of suicide is perhaps unique in that it brings with it the threat of suicide ideation. Tread carefully.
    Some warnings (I can supply more):
    http://www.thespec.com/news-story/2260498-amanda-todd-s-dad-rejects-warnings-about-watching-daughter-s-suicide-v/
    http://www.burnabynewsleader.com/news/174797851.html
    http://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-school-district-dealing-with-spike-in-high-risk-behaviour-following-amanda-todd-case-1.409638
    And well done for at least admitting you are ill equipped. Take care!

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  3. edwin bruce says:

    Thanks, good points. I would add that I don’t choose to discuss suicide, the girls do, but you are correct one has to be very careful.

    Agree with comments on Amanda Todd story. However when the girls undertake independent research the Amanda Todd video is the one they latch on to. Next time I will gently suggest wider research, as suggested in your comments.

    While not ideal, I suspect the backstories of drink, drugs etc… cannot be avoided. I suspect any Year 9 student that has spent time on the Internet has encountered these and other serious issues. More than 70% of students in the class allegedly have unrestricted access to the Internet.

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