Given some news stories, the figure of the School Psychologist appears increasingly necessary, to intervene preventively on suffering

This tragedy was experienced in high school: two boys, aged 19 and 18 respectively, took their own lives within fifteen days of each other. According to police investigations, there is no connection between the two tragedies.

Suicide is today one of the leading causes of mortality in the age group between 15 and 19, representing an absolute priority in terms of prevention. The incidence intercepts a gender difference: young men commit suicide more often than young women. However, the latter make numerous suicide attempts and often develop a clinical history of depression.

The action of suicide is also accompanied in the male gender by the abuse of substances, such as alcohol and drugs, which often contribute to the alteration of behavior (aggression and impulsivity) determining the fatal outcome; unlike the female gender in which the development of a depressive clinical history leads to the request for help and therefore to the prevention of the suicidal act.

It is useful for the State to offer valid spaces for our young people to think about themselves even in times of difficulty, it is useful for the State to work for the well-being of our children when they are still alive and not just to mourn with those that “remain”. Not taking preventive measures in the right places, such as school, where children spend around 12 years of their lives and around 1400 hours a year means leaving difficulties and pains completely unheard of.

Risk factors and protective factors: the data to build prevention! We have numerous data that allow us to identify which are the risk factors, i.e. all those variables that tend to be present more frequently in cases of suicide, compared to the preventive factors , or all those variables that indicate which aspects to "strengthen" to reduce the risk of suicide.

Risk factors:

low socio-economic status, poor education and unemployment;
dysfunctional family models accompanied by traumatic life events. Dysfunctional models are characterized by the presence of a high level of intrafamilial conflict, the presence of psychopathology in the parent, histories of substance abuse or previous suicide attempts by the parent(s);
high correlation with depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, disorders related to substance abuse and finally psychotic disorders.
Protective factors:

positive family models: good relationships, source of emotional support for the adolescent;
development of one’s personality through the “strengthening” of social skills, including the ability to ask for help and the ability to listen to others who are of the same age or adult;
socio-cultural models: integration, relational well-being with school users (class group and teachers), support.

“What depression? he's just listless!"

I like to think that these aspects identified by the clinical literature are really useful for their concrete use, that is to offer spaces for thinking about one’s pain or simply one’s doubts and uncertainties. In order for this to happen, I believe it is necessary to get out of the logic of searching for “the culprit”, but it is urgent to think of the undoubted responsibilities that legislators have starting from the innovation of a large educational agency: the school. Responsibility that lies in concretely innovating the school according to the needs of our children and the teaching staff, not overloading the latter with the request for skills that their role does not provide.

The ability to grasp a difficulty in the phase of “problem behavior” even before it becomes full-blown psychopathology today requires the presence of a School Psychologist, whose role must not be limited to the “emergency event” or “post mortem” or even to the laboratory foreseen in the “lucky” school, but it must be a right for all children, teachers and families.

Not having a figure in charge of intercepting typical signals can lead to the fatal error of responding to symptoms with a personal judgment on them, creating a vicious circle of: not listening, suffering and, ultimately, tragic events. That guy who appears listless to us sometimes isn’t:
psycho-motor slowdown;
hopelessness (experienced in sadness and melancholy, without hope);
anhedonia (lack of interest and boredom);
asthenia (physical tiredness);
morosité (disinvestment in the world);
transition to self- and hetero-aggressive acts (substance abuse, violent behavior, suicide attempts)
they are symptoms that do not need a judgement, but the right competence to be recognized and welcomed: “While compassion does not nourish self-esteem, empathy favors it starting from the suspension of judgement”. Our kids ask us for tools, in some cases for help, and it’s time to suspend our judgments and act!

Suicide is not a bolt from the blue: suicidal students give the people around them sufficient warning and leeway for intervention (NESMOS)
and it is precisely for these margins of intervention that the legislators are responsible. Italy remains one of the few European countries where the profession of School Psychologist is neither recognized nor regulated at an institutional level. Numerous bills have been proposed in this regard which to date have left the country in a stalemate situation or, better yet, in a situation of absence of services due to clearly emerging needs.

The non-clinical intervention of the School Psychologist provides for actions to promote well-being on several levels:

individual, intended for the single individual who can be any user of the school facility;
relational, intended for the relationship of two individuals or for group dynamics;
organizational and community, intended for the proper functioning of the school understood as a complex organization.
The school could become a privileged space for primary intervention, if adequately organised, as reported by DORS, according to some specific modalities aimed at promoting mental health with:

inclusion in curricula;
the articulation in the key components, i.e. health promotion, education and prevention, evaluation of the intervention and post-intervention;
involvement of health professionals who collaborate with teachers and educators;
extension to the community context;
cost-effectiveness evaluation.
It seems clear to me that the cost of the intervention will never be “ineffective” even if it is difficult to find if the goal is to prevent the death of an adolescent.