Catalonia to train teachers on suicidal behavior and self-injury in view of the wave of cases among minors

The ‘consellerias’ of Health and Education have elaborated a teaching guide, with very specific instructions, to deal with the suicidal behavior and the self-injury in schools. This document will be accompanied by a specific training of teachers as of January. This issue is increasing. The data say it: in Catalonia, 27% of children aged 11 to 18 have self-injured at some time and 43% have had suicidal thoughts, according to emotional well-being survey that both departments developed with students from fifth grade onwards in May.

These percentages have led the Govern to make a move. “There is a increase in suicide attempts and self-harm in adolescents. We are concerned about this and that it is stigmatized,” said the ‘conseller’ de Saut, Manel Balcells, in the presentation of this teaching guide. Balcells has called for “preventive measures” especially in educational establishments, the “great democratizing space” of the territory. “The guide will allow the teacher to have a accompaniment and know what needs to be done,” he stressed.

For his part, the ‘conseller’ of Educació, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, has said that the educational centers have the “will” to work on the “early detection”. Gonzàlez-Cambray has highlighted that, in line with this guide, Salut will go “training teachers”. starting in January. “And this training will be very contextualized.” he pointed out.

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Suicide attempts

According to the director of the Servei de Psiquiatria del Hospital Parc Taulí (Sabadell), Montserrat Pàmies, the pandemic has influenced the development of mental illness, especially in children. “There is one area that worries us a lot: suicide attempts,” she stressed. Moreover, in this aspect, he warned that the suicide attempts have risen by 195% in girls. They have also done so in boys, but much less: 10%.

The suicide attempts are not the same as self-injury. In the first, there is a failed will to take one’s own life. In the second, not necessarily. Even so, “a self-injury is the expression of a malaise, and also deserves the capacity to intervene,” said Pàmies.

The guide elaborated by Salut i Educació recommends the teacher, among other things, never leave the student alone who has reported suicidal behavior to you, inform the school management, and call 061, as well as the family, if it’s a imminent attempt. In the event that it is not imminent, the teacher must also communicate with the family and contact the pediatrician and the child and adolescent mental health center (CSMIJ) in the area.

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This teaching guide also provides. “alternatives” for self-injury. “These are very simple actions that can cause us to channel discomfort in another way. For example, running.” said the psychiatrist.

Suicide in minors in figures

Although attempts and self-harm in minors have skyrocketed, the truth is that the suicide deaths in this group in Catalonia have been maintained stable in recent years. From 2017 to 2021, 53 minors in the territory have taken their own lives. The incidence is 1.9% or 2% per 100,000 population. in children under 18 years of age. These figures are lower than the Spanish and European average.

“Suicide deaths in minors have remained stable thanks partially to programs such as. Codi Risc Suïcidi, which involves the incorporation of the minor to the mental health network.” emphasized Pàmies.

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