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Counselors' Handbook Offers Guidance on Suicide Prevention

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school counselors could help reduce the number of teenagers who kill themselves, a new handbook published by the American Counseling Association says.

"Suicide Prevention in the Schools,'' which was designed as a training guide for counselors, tells how to identify students who are most at risk, explains common myths about suicide, and suggests intervention techniques for counselors. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among adolescents, according to the A.C.A.

"One common myth is that adolescents who talk about suicide never attempt it,'' writes David Capuzzi, a professor of counselor education at Portland State University in Oregon and the book's author. "Since a suicide attempt is a cry for help, always take verbal threats seriously.''

Common behavioral signs that a person may be suicidal include a lack of concern about his or her own welfare, altered eating and sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, a sudden change in personality, and preoccupation with death.

In order to help identify and treat those at risk for suicide, schools should organize faculty members, students, and parents into an intervention team to plan a suicide-prevention strategy, Mr. Capuzzi says.

These plans should include crisis-management training, the option of individual and group counseling for students, and parent-education programs. There must also be significant administrative support for any plan to succeed, the author says.

Copies of the handbook are available for $23.95 each from the American Counseling Association at (800) 347-6647 or (703) 823-9800.
--JESSICA PORTNER

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