Over the past fifteen years, the prevalence of suicidal ideation and of suicide attempts among adolescents has increased dramatically. This is especially true of adolescents who are Black and Hispanic. In 2019, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that as many as one in five students in high school had at some point considered suicide. Of those students, one in six had actually made a plan. The pandemic worsened the situation. Not only did school closures lead to social isolation, they also separated vulnerable students from school counselors and other mental health resources. As teens spend most of their time at school, schools must develop strategies to effectively address, predict, and prevent teen suicide. Technology can help to prevent teen suicide.
How Technology Can Help to Prevent Teen Suicide
In an article for Contemporary Pediatrics, Celeste Krewson assesses tools that can be used to measure a pediatric patient’s risk for suicide. One, the Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ), is a set of screening questions. The other is a recently developed tool called the Computerized Adaptive Screen for Suicidal Youth (CASSY). Krewson describes a study comparing the effectiveness of the ASQ and the CASSY. The study analyzed data from 2,740 adolescent patients who “completed an ASQ, CASSY, and 3-month follow-up.” According to this data, both ASQ and CASSY had similar predictive performance for suicide attempts within three months. However, CASSY showed improved predictability for patients with psychiatric symptoms, suggesting its greater validity in these cases. This study demonstrates that technology can help to prevent teen suicide.
LearnSafe: Technology to Help Schools Prevent Teen Suicide
Screen-monitioring software on school computers can also help prevent teen suicide. Screen monitoring software ,like LearnSafe, can detect threats of suicide and self-harm — and, in several cases, LearnSafe has saved lives. LearnSafe detected twenty incidents of students expressing an intention to self-harm in a single district in a little over two months. LearnSafe also helped schools identify students who were considering suicide. Schools were then able to to offer vulnerable students the help and resources that they needed. In one instance, a school counselor told LearnSafe that they “may have saved a life today.” Teen suicide is an alarming crisis for which schools must be prepared. With LearnSafe, schools can make sure that vulnerable students get the help that they need before it’s too late.