What Would You Do?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Imagine this scenario: You are a volunteer at your school or organization and have just finished helping out with a 5th-grade class party. The kids have just left for the day, and you are tidying up while the teacher is attending an after-hours meeting. You pick up a student’s notebook from the floor and as you do, a note falls out. The note says, “I want to die.” What do you do?

You may be thinking that there is no way the note could be serious. After all, these kids are just 11 and 12 years old. But, would it surprise you to know that many pre-teens think about suicide, and one of the warning signs is talking about or hinting at suicide? The good news is that you found the note and you can now take action. The question is, what is the appropriate first action should you take?

Your first step should be to immediately contact the teacher of that classroom. He or she will probably notify the principal or director, the child’s parents, and/or local authorities if the child is a danger to himself or others. Keep in mind that in some states, suicidal threats are part of mandatory reporting duties and must be reported to the proper authorities.

Though you may never know for sure, it’s possible that you saved a life by finding that note in the classroom. This may have been a note written in haste, but it could be the cry for help that puts the child onto a better path.