Section 2: School-Based Suicide Prevention Programs and Materials
Creating Suicide Safety in Schools (CSSS) is a one-day workshop designed for school-based interdisciplinary teams, empowering them to establish realistic short-term plans for effective suicide prevention and response planning. Participants spend time planning and problem solving for specific actions needed for suicide-safer schools. The workshop's format includes didactic presentations coupled with small workgroup discussions, checklists, group planning documents, and exposure to free and low-cost resources that meet best practice recommendations and/or evidence-based practice standards. Creating Suicide Safety in Schools incorporates key aspects of the Social-Ecological Prevention Model, public health perspectives, and recommendations for school-based suicide prevention practices (e.g.. Berman, Jobes, & Silverman, 2006; Miller, 2011). Further, the workshop explores six broad categories of school-based suicide safety: (1) policies, procedures, and standardized protocols; (2) staff training; (3) promotion of student protective factors; (4) identification and reduction of student risk factors: (5) postvention planning; and (6) engagement of family and community. The Creating Suicide Safety in Schools workshop is available from the Suicide Prevention Center of New York State (SPCNY). Contact SPCNY for workshop information and costs.
The FIRE Within: Youth Entrepreneurs Preventing Suicide is a 30-hour, classroom-based program for high school students that applies entrepreneurial strategies to suicide prevention. Co-curricular instruction (combining the talents of classroom teachers and local business leaders) using a hands-on approach helps students develop and use business, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to advance suicide prevention and awareness. The FIRE Within is delivered to students using a combination of Junior Achievement’s Be Entrepreneurial and Carson J. Spencer Foundation’s (CJSF) The FIRE Within curricula. Students learn facts about teen suicide, research and identify the root causes of suicidal ideation among their peers, explore possible prevention strategies, and develop and execute a business plan to prevent suicide within their own community. The program includes a business plan competition in which students develop sustainable businesses that raise revenue and achieve market-based solutions that address the root causes of suicide in their communities. Students compete for varying levels of seed money to implement their plans. From 2006-2009, CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas piloted The FIRE Within at Regis University. In 2009 CJSF started implementation in high schools in partnership with Junior Achievement and the Second Wind Fund. While scaling the program statewide, external evaluators and standardized materials/training ensured quality control. The program’s goals are to promote student-driven suicide prevention (students are trained as QPR Gatekeepers and taught best practices in safe messaging); increase student engagement; and develop socially responsible business leaders.
The Gryphon Place Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Program: A Middle School Curriculum is a universal prevention program for Grades 7-8, developed by Gryphon Place. The program is comprised of a three-lesson curriculum delivered on three consecutive days. Schools host the program, which is delivered by Gryphon Place employees. In addition to the curriculum, staff and parent awareness presentations are offered to schools. The primary goal of the Gryphon Place Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Program is to increase the likelihood that school gatekeepers—administrators, faculty, staff, and students—can identify, intervene, and obtain help for at-risk youth. Additional goals are to educate about issues of mental illness, depression, and substance abuse in a manner that reduces stigma and encourages help-seeking behaviors; and to develop coping, self-esteem, asset-building, stress reduction, and communication skills. Students receive information about local resources available to help them or their friends.
Jason Foundation, Inc. educates young people, parents, teachers, and others who work with young people about youth suicide. The foundation offers programs, seminars, and support materials on suicide awareness and prevention.
Lifelines Intervention: Helping Students At Risk for Suicide is designed to facilitate intervention with, and referral of, potentially at-risk students by providing school resource staff with a manualized approach to the assessment and referral process. Lifelines Intervention is based on the recognition that although schools are not mental health facilities, the skillful and appropriate adaptation of traditional counseling techniques by school-based staff can assist in the process of gathering essential information from students. This information can clarify the school’s concerns about risk and can assist referral resources with treatment planning. The Lifelines Intervention manual includes a DVD that illustrates specific techniques for use with challenging students and with parents who may be resistant to either the conversation about suicide risk or referral for an off-campus mental health evaluation. The manual also calls attention to special populations that might be at elevated risk and reinforces the importance of the development and promotion of resilience and protective factors. The content, while derived from counseling theory and techniques, has been specifically adapted to the practical realities and limitations of the school setting by the three authors, all of whom have considerable experience in addressing mental health issues from a school-based perspective.
RESPONSE is a comprehensive high school-based program that increases awareness about suicide among high school staff, students and parents. All program components are designed to heighten sensitivity to depression and suicidal ideation, increase identification, and facilitate referral. The program also provides procedures to refer a student who may be at-risk for suicide. Components include (1) a two-hour awareness training for staff, (2) a four-hour student curriculum (spread across four class periods), and parent awareness materials. An implementation assistance manual is also included for administrators. Before implementing the awareness components, participating schools must identify key staff to serve on a suicide prevention team. Key school-based staff should include the principal or vice-principal, a school-based RESPONSE coordinator, two "suicide contacts" responsible for handling referrals, and a counselor. Each component of RESPONSE integrates extensive “in the field” experience and key evaluation findings from other school-based programs. Videos for the awareness components were developed in collaboration with an award-winning film company.
SOS Signs of Suicide® Program provides school health professionals with the educational materials necessary to replicate this program, which teaches high school students to recognize the signs and symptoms of suicide and depression in themselves and others and to follow specific action steps to respond to those signs. The program can be incorporated into an existing health curriculum or can be used as a stand-alone program. The program includes educational materials, a training video, and an implementation manual, and can be completed in one or two class periods.
Sources of Strength is a best practice youth suicide prevention project that utilizes the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture and ultimately prevent suicide, bullying and substance abuse. The program is designed to prevent suicide by increasing help seeking behaviors and connections between peers and caring adults with a focus on Hope, Help and Strength.
Umatter for Schools Youth Suicide Prevention is a two-day training program that provides school teams with the knowledge and skills to develop comprehensive, asset-based approaches to suicide prevention in their schools. Teams may include teachers, administrators, counselors, and other staff, and are encouraged to bring a representative from a local mental health agency in their area. The program includes gatekeeper training with an emphasis on building assets and protective factors for all youth, developing school protocols, learning to use a student curriculum, and making an action plan to implement suicide prevention strategies in the school community. Umatter also includes a public information campaign with the central message that adults matter because they can act as gatekeepers for youth who are suicidal. The campaign emphasizes that young people who are depressed or suicidal also matter because they are needed by their families, friends, and communities whether they feel that in the moment or not. Umatter was developed following a review of several school-based suicide prevention programs to determine key concepts. Additional concepts were drawn from the American Association of Suicidology and the academic literature about suicide. The learning activities in Umatter are designed to reach the learning preferences and styles of all participants, and to ensure maximum transfer of knowledge, skills, and attitudes to the workplace.
Yellow Ribbon International Suicide Prevention Program® provides training and resources for school- and community-based suicide prevention programs (including gatekeeping). Chapters in a number of states can provide suicide prevention speakers, materials, and training to schools and other organizations.
Youth Suicide Prevention Program is an organization whose mission is to reduce youth suicide attempts and deaths in Washington State. Working toward that goal, YSPP builds public awareness, offers trainings, and supports communities taking action.