Slang dictionary

back to school necklace

back-to-school necklace [ bak too skool nek-lis ]

What is a back to school necklace?

Back to school necklace is a slang term for a noose. The term is typically used by students as a way of suggesting that they are dreading the return to school after summer break.

Although the phrase is often used with the intent of being darkly humorous or hyperbolic, the use of any reference to suicide may indicate potential for self-harm.

The term is often used in ways that can make it seem like it refers to an actual necklace, as in Ugh, school’s starting, time for a back to school necklace.

Like other veiled terms used in reference to suicide (such as unalive), the term is sometimes used to circumvent social media platform rules that prohibit the discussion or use of the term suicide or related terms.

Most use of the term back to school necklace on social media happens in the period leading up to a new school year. This regularly sparks interest from parents and media outlets, which often leads to the promotion of articles or other content explaining the phrase and discussing its use and the concerns associated with it. In this way, awareness of the term is likely disproportionate to its limited use. Still, mental health experts often caution parents to take the use of such terms seriously.

Note: If you’ve reached this page because you are having thoughts about harming yourself, please know that you matter, and there is help available.

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (or by dialing 988 in some areas), or chat with someone online, or text 741741 to talk to a counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Related words

unalive, Friyay, brigading

Where does back to school necklace come from?

blue text "back to school necklace" on aqua background

The phrase back to school typically refers to the return to school after summer break, as in back to school shopping or It’s back to school time. Back to school necklace uses the word necklace in reference to how a noose is placed around a person’s neck. (The word necklace by itself likely has a history of being used as a slang term for a noose.)

The origin of the phrase back to school necklace as a slang term for a noose is uncertain. This slang sense of the term has been used on social media since at least August 2012. The term gained use in 2013 and afterwards in memes featuring the phrase and a photo of a noose.

Examples of back to school necklace

Alright who snitched and is telling their parents what a back to school necklace is because the secrets out now
@NathanWagonn, September 7, 2021
So, although a back-to-school necklace sounds innocent enough to those unaware of its real meaning, it is actually a cry for help as it's a code for death by hanging.
Kelsey Pelzer, Parade, August 2022

Who uses back to school necklace?

The slang sense of back to school necklace is typically used by students before or during the return to school after summer break as a way of expressing their dread about returning. Although it is often used with the intent of being darkly humorous, the use of any term related to suicide can indicate potential for self-harm.

Of course, it’s also possible for the term to be used in a completely unrelated literal way, such as in reference to actual necklaces during the back to school season (which is a time when many students buy new clothes and accessories for the year).

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of back to school necklace like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of back to school necklace that will help our users expand their word mastery.