For Counselors: Depression

Suicide

Table of Contents

As you advance through each month of 5 Radical Minutes, additional content will become available.

Depression (Suicide) 1-4

These prompts are for students who deal with depression, which can often show up as suicidal thoughts.

Note: Be sure to read the introductory content to your students before jumping into these prompts. It will help all know what’s coming, and what amazing things you’re going to accomplish together.

Week 1
Introduction

Introduction

Just like in your classroom, we’re using the five minute listening activities where we take turns listening to one another from a heart-centered, compassionate and caring place. We’ll also start with a moment or so of deep breathing and using the stress reduction techniques so we have ourselves in the calmest, most caring place possible as we share our group time together.  I’ll use the bell for when we begin deep breathing. I’ll ring it again when we can open our eyes and face our partner and again when it is time to trade from the listening to the speaking, and finally, when it is time to move to the time when we look for what we have in common.

Let’s begin by taking a moment of breathing deep into our bellies and, each time you exhale, relax a little more and just let go.

prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the counselor is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the counselor is not paired with a student, the counselor could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

With your partner today, during your time to talk, share something about the people in your world who feel safest to talk to… those who really understand your struggles most deeply.

Ring the bell to start their sharing time. Ring it after two minutes so they can trade roles from listener to speaker. Ring the bell at the end of sharing time.

Note: Two-minutes is the goal, but these first few prompts may go quite a bit more quickly. Remind them not to respond to one another during their two-minute talking time. They’re to just respond to the prompt directly.

Connecting

Connecting

Do this in pairs during the last minute.

Is there anything you can identify that you had in common in how you described people who understand you the best?

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

One Step Further

One Step Further

You might have all in the group contribute and make a master list of all of the attributes of what makes someone feel like a safe person.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This will be a goal based on our weekly prompt, and lays the groundwork for more intentional mindfulness later. If possible, have someone touch base with the students on this challenge during the week.

Until I see you again, notice other people in your lives who might care more deeply about you than you’d realized.  Also think about how you can be that person for your friends.

tip

Prepare

If you’re going to have your students post their lists using post-it notes for the optional additional step, you will need flip chart paper or a place for the Post Its to be posted (blank wall or flip chart paper taped to the wall perhaps), and you’ll need ample post-it notes.  Otherwise students need a way of writing their lists and then you need to be able to write their responses on the blackboard or flipchart.

Week 2
Introduction

Introduction

This week they’ll have a new partner. Use the bell to start the deep breathing, to start the prompt, for trading listening and talking, and for finding commonness at the end.

Note: If you’re going to have your students post their lists using post-it notes for the optional additional step, you will need flip chart paper or a place for the Post Its to be posted (blank wall or flip chart paper taped to the wall perhaps), and you’ll need ample post-it notes.  Otherwise students need a way of writing their lists and then you need to be able to write their responses on the blackboard or flipchart.

This week we’ll start with a few deep breaths.

Ring the bell after about 1 minute.

prompt

Prompt

During your time to talk, identify some of the ways you see yourself pull away from people. Are there ways that you self-isolate? Are there activities you avoid?

Connecting

Connecting

Help each other come up with ideas on how to be a little less isolated. What are some first steps you could each take so you’d feel less alone? Are there ways we in this group could spend time together when we aren’t in group? Maybe check in every day?

One Step Further

One Step Further

Let’s put together a master list of all the ways students can move toward being less isolated and find ways to connect more with others.

  • You could give all students several post-it notes and they can write an idea on each one and post them all together so they can all see one another’s ideas.
    • You could take a picture of them with your phone and ask a clerical person to type them up as a list and give them back out to students next week.
    • You might generate ideas amongst the group
  • You could post their answers on a white board
    • Ask students to each call out their answers so you can write them up, which also encourages them to share verbally with the whole group
    • These could be typed out and shared next week.
  • Ask students whether there are things the school could do or organize that would create more safe places for them to connect with peers
    • Create a list using one of the ideas above
    • See whether there is anything you could take to other staff and make happen.
challenge

Weekly Challenge

This week, start noticing when you pull away from people, and see if you can use some of the ideas we talked about today to keep from isolating yourself.

Week 3
Introduction

Introduction

Note: As above, organize for post-it notes and list-making. The goal in this week’s session is to help youth see any reasons at all that they can deal with stress via mutual support.

There are many reasons that students have stress. There are many ways that we can manage stress, or try to lessen it in our lives, and one way is by giving and accepting the support of others. We’re going to start again with the deep breathing so we can get as relaxed and focused as possible.

prompt

Prompt

There are many reasons that students have stress. There are many ways that we can manage stress, or try to lessen it in our lives, and one way is by giving and accepting the support of others. Today for your speaking time, identify at least one stressor in your life, and see if you can also come up with one way that others could support you in a helpful way.

Connecting

Connecting

Come up with three or four ideas for how students in our group could be mutually supportive of one another and write one idea each on your post-it notes. As you bring yours up to post, read each idea out loud.

One Step Further

One Step Further

Depending on what students have said/done, you might take the time to help students flesh out a plan for how each can have one person that is supporting that individual and one person each is supporting.

comment

Weekly Challenge

Let’s each look at the list we have and choose one thing we would be willing to accept support on and one way we’d be willing to give support.

Week 4
Introduction

Introduction

Note: This is an art day – have felt pens or colored pencils and paper for students.

prompt

Prompt

Prompt for Sketch #1

This week we’re going to do three quick sketches. This isn’t an art project. It doesn’t matter what the picture looks like, but what you realize in the process of quickly sketching something as I suggest the topic. Don’t focus on it or overthink it. Just let yourself sketch quickly as I give you each idea. We’ll take about one minute per sketch.

Prompt for Sketch #2

Slide picture one to the left. Now, just let yourself imagine that your life could be in a place that would be really OK in regard to whatever you drew in picture one. It doesn’t have to be real, just imagined. What would it look like if that part of life were OK? You have a minute, so just a quick sketch.

Prompt for Sketch #3

Slide that picture to the right. Now, put a piece of paper in the middle, right in front of you. Sketch one thing you could do to take one step in that direction. Just a little, tiny step.

Connecting

Connecting

Turn to your partner and share your third picture. Describe the issue you drew about and what your one step might be.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This week, keep thinking about taking steps forward, no matter how small.

Depression (Suicide) 5-8

Week 5
Introduction

Introduction

Remind students about the value of deep breathing and focusing on internal calm, and give them a minute or so to do so.

prompt

Prompt

Today during your time to speak, talk about something you feel proud about having done. Something you feel good about in any way, from a skill you have to something you’ve accomplished.

Connecting

Connecting

What did you have in common?

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This week, notice how many strengths you have and use every day. 

Week 6
Introduction

Introduction

Note:  We know that students have a range of ways of being able to internalize coping mechanisms, so we want to try different ways of making insights and information available to them. This time instead of just talking about where they hold stress, instead of paired sharing, the pairs will do the “connecting” part of the exercise, but for the first 3 minutes you will lead them in a closed-eye exercise (also called guided imagery).  It is nice to have soft music in the background as you read the instructions for them.

prompt

Prompt

Today we’re going to get in touch with where we hold stress in our bodies by doing a relaxation exercise that is actually lots of fun. You can do this on your own, too, so you’ll be learning something you might do in your bedroom at night or even when you’re sitting in your desk during class. The first three minutes, I’ll be talking us through an activity where we close our eyes and pay attention to where we have stress in our bodies, and then we’ll work on relaxing in a very specific way. At the end of the closed-eye part I’ll ring the bell to signal that we can open our eyes, and each of you will have a couple of minutes to do the “connecting” part we do at the end of our sharing each time, where you just talk with one another about what you have in common…  how well it worked, what you learned, and maybe when you might use it on your own. I’ll ring the bell for us to close our eyes and again when you can open them.

Ring the bell.

Take a few deep breaths, and just let yourself relax as you exhale.

[Pause.] Now, start at your toes and your feet and feel whether you hold any stress there… and now tighten all the muscles in your feet… [say this slowly] tighten, tighten, tighten, and relax.

[Pause.] Move your awareness up into your calves – your lower legs. Notice what you feel. Now, just in that area of your body, just your lower legs, [say this slowly]  tighten, tighten, tighten, and relax.  Now, your thighs. Your upper legs. What do you feel there?

[Continue on naming these parts of the body, and then add]

Let your awareness be there, and notice what you feel. Now, just in that area, [say this slowly] tighten, tighten, tighten, and relax.

  • Feet
  • Calves
  • Thighs
  • Tummy
  • Chest
  • Bottom
  • Lower back
  • Upper back
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Face  [when you mention the face, suggest they squinch it up into a tight little ball or circle and then the relaxation part.]

Ring the bell after about 3 minutes.

Connecting

Connecting

Now, with your partner, share anything you wish about what you noticed.  Maybe where you think you hold the most stress, maybe where and when you think you will use this on your own. You don’t have to take turns like the first part of our usual activities, this can be like the last minute where you just have a conversation about what you felt and realized and see what you have in common.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This week when you feel a bit stressed, try doing this activity on your own. Maybe right before a test to calm down, or before you fall asleep at night.

Week 7
prompt

Prompt

With today’s partner, your two minutes of sharing is about what circumstances in the future could make it possible for you to have less stress such that you didn’t have to really worry much about how to feel calm inside.

If you are talking openly about cutting or self-harm, you could say “… could make it possible for you to be so calm most of the time that you really didn’t even think about doing any self-harm.”

Connecting

Connecting

What did you have in common?

challenge

Weekly Challenge

Everyone has many stressful things happen then over their lifetimes. Some of them we can prevent by the choices we make. But whether we can anticipate them coming or not, how we handle them can make all the difference. This week, see if there are a few ways you can reduce stress in your life. Even if they’re little things, these changes might make a big difference in how you feel!

Week 8
prompt

Prompt

During our time together, we’ve talked about what makes us stressed, what we know about getting calm, what kinds of places are safe places, how we can relax stress that is in our bodies, and we’ve imagined life in the future with manageable stress.  [If it is your last time together for group…. For this last time together..] We’re going to take one full minute of relaxation time, and while you listen to the calming music, let yourself remember how you envisioned a future time when you were more able to manage your stress. As you imagine that, also let the answer to this question come to your awareness: What is one step you could make toward that less stressful future? I’ll right the bell to start us in the closed-eye part, and I’ll ring it again in a minute when you can open your eyes and begin your sharing.  We’ll be doing the paired sharing where only one person talks for two minutes and then you switch.  We’ll take time at the end for seeing what you have in common.

Ring the bell.

Take this first moment to remember what you envisioned about a less stressful time in the future.

Pause for 30 seconds.

Now let yourself become aware of one thing you could do to take one step toward that future.

Ring the bell when they are to begin their paired sharing.

Connecting

Connecting

This time, we’ll take just a little extra time. Each of you share one thing you think you could do now, and then together, come up with a way that this group could encourage or support you in taking that first step.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

Great that you can think about next steps, but also give yourselves credit. Being in this group, you’ve already taken many steps toward that future. The key is how to keep this momentum going. Every once in a while, take a few moments to think about a lower-stress future. This will help you continue to make great choices!