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Universal school-based suicide awareness & education programs

Health Factors: Education
Decision Makers: Educators Grantmakers
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

Universal school-based suicide awareness and education programs deliver a curriculum-based approach to suicide prevention to all students (Surgenor 2016), usually in middle or high school settings. Students learn to recognize warning signs of suicide in themselves and others (Cooper 2011, Katz 2013). Programs are often based on a psychoeducational curriculum and use multimedia presentations, lectures, classroom discussion, interactive activities, and role-play (Surgenor 2016).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced suicide
Increased knowledge of suicide
Improved coping skills
Increased help-seeking behavior

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that universal school-based suicide awareness and prevention programs reduce suicide attempts among middle and high school students (Calear 2016, Robinson 2013b, Cusimano 2011). Such programs can also improve students’ knowledge and coping mechanisms to address suicidal thoughts and depression (Katz 2013, Robinson 2013b, Cusimano 2011). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

The SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention program is a school-based program that has been shown to reduce self-reported suicide attempts as well as increase knowledge and coping mechanisms to address suicidal thoughts and poor mental health among middle and high school students (SAMHSA-NREPP, Calear 2016, Katz 2013). Students participating in the Youth Aware of Mental Health Program (YAM), in place in various European countries, report fewer suicide attempts and less suicidal ideation than nonparticipating peers (Wasserman 2015). Good Behavior Game, a classroom behavior management program for elementary school students, has been shown to improve peer relationships and is associated with decreases in the risk of later suicide attempts (Newcomer 2016). Universal education programs appear to increase middle and high school students’ help-seeking behaviors in some cases (Klimes-Dougan 2013, Robinson 2013b, Cusimano 2011).

Experts suggest that lack of school administrative support and concerns that suicide education may lead to increases in suicide attempts can be barriers to implementing suicide prevention programs in schools (YSP school guide, Stein 2010).

Implementation

United States

There are many specific suicide prevention programs, particularly at the middle and high school level. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a toolkit to help high schools and districts around the country implement suicide prevention programs (SAMHSA-High school toolkit). SAMHSA also awards grants in support of state and tribal youth suicide prevention efforts (GLS suicide prevention). The Suicide Prevention Resource Center outlines many approaches to suicide prevention programs, including school curriculums (SPRC).

Washington state recently piloted Riding the Waves, a suicide prevention curriculum for 5th grade elementary school students (YSPP-Riding the Waves).

Wisconsin

Wisconsin law requires schools to educate students about suicide prevention using health curriculum. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction provides universal classroom curriculum for middle and high school students (WI DPI-Suicide curriculum) and the Department of Health Services and Mental Health America of Wisconsin have partnered to develop a statewide prevention strategy (WI DHS-Suicide strategy). There are many local suicide prevention coalitions and crisis lines (PSW).

Implementation Resources

SAMHSA-High school toolkit - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Preventing suicide: A toolkit for high schools. HHS Publication No. SMA-12-4669. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2012. Accessed on February 9, 2017
SOS - Screening for Mental Health. Prevention and education: The SOS Signs of Suicide (SOS). Accessed on February 9, 2017
SPRC - Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). Effective suicide prevention requires multiple approaches. Accessed on February 9, 2017
TX-Steps for schools - Poland S, Poland D. Recommendations for Suicide Safer Schools Texas school district action steps. Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Suicide Prevention Council, & Mental Health America of Texas; 2015. Accessed on February 9, 2017
YSP school guide - Lazear KJ, Roggenbaum S, Blasé K. Youth suicide prevention school-based guide (YSP school guide). Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, College of Behavioral & Community Sciences, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Child & Family Studies; 2012. Accessed on February 9, 2017
YSPP - Youth Suicide Prevention Program (YSPP). Reduce suicidal behaviors in Washington State. Accessed on February 9, 2017

Citations - Description

Cooper 2011* - Cooper GD, Clements PT, Holt K. A review and application of suicide prevention programs in high school settings. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 2011;32(11):696-702. Accessed on February 9, 2017
Katz 2013* - Katz C, Bolton S-L, Katz LY, et al. A systematic review of school-based suicide prevention programs. Depression and Anxiety. 2013;30(10):1030-1045. Accessed on February 9, 2017
Surgenor 2016* - Surgenor PWG, Quinn P, Hughes C. Ten recommendations for effective school-based, adolescent, suicide prevention programs [published online ahead of print March 2, 2016]. School Mental Health. doi: 10.1007/s12310-016-9189-9. Accessed on February 9, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Calear 2016* - Calear AL, Christensen H, Freeman A, et al. A systematic review of psychosocial suicide prevention interventions for youth. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2016;25(5):467-482. Accessed on February 9, 2017
Cusimano 2011* - Cusimano MD, Sameem M. The effectiveness of middle and high school-based suicide prevention programmes for adolescents: A systematic review. Injury Prevention. 2011;17(1):43-49. Accessed on February 9, 2017
Katz 2013* - Katz C, Bolton S-L, Katz LY, et al. A systematic review of school-based suicide prevention programs. Depression and Anxiety. 2013;30(10):1030-1045. Accessed on February 9, 2017
Klimes-Dougan 2013* - Klimes-Dougan B, Klingbeil DA, Meller SJ. The impact of universal suicide-prevention programs on the help-seeking attitudes and behaviors of youths. Crisis. 2013;34(2):82-97. Accessed on February 9, 2017
Newcomer 2016* - Newcomer AR, Roth KB, Kellam SG, et al. Higher childhood peer reports of social preference mediates the impact of the good behavior game on suicide attempt. Prevention Science. 2016;17(2):145-156. Accessed on February 9, 2017
Robinson 2013b* - Robinson J, Cox G, Malone A, et al. A systematic review of school-based interventions aimed at preventing, treating, and responding to suicide-related behavior in young people. Crisis. 2013;34(3):164-182. Accessed on February 9, 2017
SAMHSA-NREPP - SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Accessed on April 12, 2017
Stein 2010* - Stein BD, Kataoka SH, Hamilton AB, et al. School personnel perspectives on their school’s implementation of a school-based suicide prevention program. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research. 2010;37(3):338-349. Accessed on February 9, 2017
Wasserman 2015* - Wasserman D, Hoven CW, Wasserman C, et al. School-based suicide prevention programmes: The SEYLE cluster-randomised, controlled trial. Lancet. 2015;385(9977):1536-1544. Accessed on February 9, 2017
YSP school guide - Lazear KJ, Roggenbaum S, Blasé K. Youth suicide prevention school-based guide (YSP school guide). Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, College of Behavioral & Community Sciences, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Child & Family Studies; 2012. Accessed on February 9, 2017

Citations - Implementation

GLS suicide prevention - Suicide Prevention Resource Center. Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Suicide Prevention grantees. Accessed on February 9, 2017
PSW - Prevent Suicide Wisconsin (PSW). Partners saving lives in our state. Accessed on February 9, 2017
SAMHSA-High school toolkit - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Preventing suicide: A toolkit for high schools. HHS Publication No. SMA-12-4669. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2012. Accessed on February 9, 2017
SPRC - Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). Effective suicide prevention requires multiple approaches. Accessed on February 9, 2017
WI DHS-Suicide strategy - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI DHS). Wisconsin suicide prevention strategy; 2015. Accessed on February 9, 2017
WI DPI-Suicide curriculum - Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WI DPI). Classroom curriculum on youth suicide prevention. Accessed on February 9, 2017
YSPP-Riding the Waves - Youth Suicide Prevention Program (YSPP). Riding the Waves elementary school curriculum. Accessed on February 9, 2017

Page Last Updated

February 6, 2017

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