Suicide Prevention through technology – Connect, Communicate, Care

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents 15 to 19 years old; having passed up homicide.

One out of every 53 high school students has reported having made a suicide attempt that was serious enough to be treated by a doctor or a nurse (CDC, 2010a).

For each suicide death among young people, there may be as many as 100–200 suicide attempts (McIntosh, 2010)

The hard truth of these statistics is that suicide is preventable. There are warning signs of suicidal behavior. By connecting, caring, and communicating, potential student suicides can be prevented. Using technology can be a tool that supports this endeavor.


Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies show that connectedness of adolescents to their schools has been shown to protect against suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Creating community through technology involves providing a means of connectivity for students, teachers and staff.  Promoting student blogging can allow students to share their feelings and thoughts with others in a non-confrontational way. Utilizing software such as Edmodo and Schoology can provide a means of two way communication, that are similar to that of social media messaging.  Sharing out information on suicide via these apps, and giving students the ability to comment can open up dialog in a less threatening way than face to face conversation.

Connecting with students bereaved by suicide or who have lived experience of suicidal behavior is key to suicide prevention. Being there for young people who have become disconnected and guiding them to the supports they need can be a lifesaving activity.


Over 70% of teens utilize social media and instant messaging to communicate with their peers, according to Pew Research. This quite clearly indicates/ obviously means that young people are likely to be communicating online while in school.

Listening is a key ingredient to communication. Listening to students through online monitoring can detect, address, and prevent instances of self-harm and suicide. Conversations around bullying, abuse, depression, racial and religious hatred, and LGBT persecution can all signs of at risk situations.

Using online monitoring software, such as Impero Education Pro, schools can listen to student online activity to detect signs of risk. Monitoring software contains an expansive library of terms and phrases and uses algorithms to detect and flag keywords with concerning content. The software alerts safeguarding adults to this content, through a report of terms with definitions, captured screenshots, and short videos, along with severity levels to provide context of the situation. Then school staff can analyze activity to determine if it is a true threat. Issues can then be sent on to the appropriate next step, according to the school’s safety procedures.

The CDC suggests that removing social or material barriers to help-seeking, those contemplating or planning suicide may be more easily identified and treated and therefore less likely to engage in life-threatening behaviors.

Utilizing the chat features of a digital classroom management software can allow students to communicate with their teacher without anyone else hearing them. This can be helpful for students who want to reach out but are afraid of peers hearing them. Additionally, anonymous reporting tools, such as Impero’s Confide function, allow students to report concerns to a safeguarding adult assigned by the school, without fear of anyone else knowing.


All the technology intervention in the world will have no effect in helping prevent suicide in our youth without the final ingredient, care. As educators we need to continuously look out for students who may be struggling, and let them tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Those who have been affected by suicide have much to teach us in this regard.

Suicide prevention through technology saves lives

Impero Education Pro monitoring software has been in place in classrooms across the UK for several years, and was recently updated for US terminology. Recently, a UK district reported that because of keyword monitoring, three suicides were prevented in one year. That is three lives of students that were saved by monitoring online activity on school devices. Think of how many lives could be saved across the country and around the world by connecting, caring, and communicating suicide prevention through technology.


For more about detecting and addressing suicide through Impero Education Pro online monitoring software, read this recent blog post.

For a comprehensive explanation of behavior management software, Internet safety monitoring, and Impero Education Pro, you can download a whitepaper here.

Find out more about how Impero education network management software can help your school in the early prevention of student suicide by requesting free demos and trials on our website. Talk to our team of education experts by calling 877.883.4370, or by emailing Impero now to arrange a call back.