First Presenter's Institution

MindWise Innovations

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Session 6 Breakouts

Strand #1

Health: Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Heart: Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This proposal relates to young people’s “Health” as well as their “Heart.” Youth suicide prevention programming addresses the mental health needs of all youth by teaching students to identify the symptoms of depression in themselves and their peers. Evidence-based prevention programming teaches students, parents and other trusted adults that suicidality is not a normal response to stress, but a preventable tragedy that occurs as a result of untreated mental health concerns, most often depression. While a universal approach to suicide prevention is critical in order to reach the entire population without regard to individual risk factors, it also works to reduce stigma around mental illness for students and adults. A focus on risk reduction and health promotion empowers youth to take action on behalf of peers at risk. Schools and community groups around the country are finding that implementing a universal youth suicide prevention program annually has led to significant improvements in social climate for all children. Peer-to-peer suicide prevention teaches a pro-social message that youth can utilize in all aspects of their relationships with each other:

  • Acknowledge that you are seeing signs of depression, self-injury, or suicide in a friend and that it is serious.
  • Care—let your friend know that you care about him or her, and that you are concerned that he or she needs help you cannot provide.
  • Tell a trusted adult, either with your friend or on his or her behalf.

Brief Program Description

Youth suicide is a preventable tragedy that can occur when children's mental health needs are unmet. Participants will discuss published research on risk factors for youth suicide, how to implement an evidence-based prevention program, and how to tackle common obstacles encountered. Participants will be prepared to mobilize school staff, parents, and community members to address the critical issues of depression awareness and suicide prevention.

Summary

We would rather not talk about it, but youth suicide is a reality and it is more common than most people think. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 12-18 (CDC, 2011). For professionals working within high poverty communities, the reality of suicide is even more common. Youth in low-income neighborhoods are two times as likely to struggle with suicidal ideation than their higher income peers and the odds of youth attempting suicide are about four times higher in disadvantaged neighborhoods (Dupere, 2009). Every young person growing up in a low income community is more likely to know someone who is contemplating suicide. These young people need and deserve the tools to take action.

Schools and community-based organizations across the country are teaming up to provide effective youth suicide prevention programming. This has included implementation of an evidence-based, universal prevention program for middle and high school students.

Using the help-seeking acronym ACT (Acknowledge, Care, and Tell), the program teaches youth to recognize signs of depression or suicide in themselves or in a friend and how to respond effectively. The program also engages school staff, parents, and community members as partners in youth suicide prevention and educates them as natural gatekeepers in ensuring youth safety. Schools are encouraged to partner with community-based providers to gain broad-based support.

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify five warning signs and risk factors for depression and suicidality in youth.
  2. Discuss research on the safety, efficacy, and feasibility of implementing a school or community-based suicide prevention program.
  3. Identify three effective ways for schools and community-based organizations to collaborate to support youth suicide prevention efforts.
  4. Utilize best practices and step-by-step plans for implementing a school or community-based suicide prevention program.

Evidence

Describe evidence that demonstrates the field-tested effectiveness of the proposed solution or approach. Explain how the proposal is based on known research and promising practices.

While stigma surrounding mental health impacts access to care for adults and children alike, youth are particularly vulnerable because they are generally not well educated on mental health. A survey of middle school students in four states demonstrated significant uncertainty about whether mental disorders are caused by biological factors or whether medication is helpful in treatment. It also revealed the substantial social stigma youth attach to other youth with mental illness (Wahl et al., 2012). In order to increase youth seeking help for themselves and their peers, stigma must be reduced.

The SOS Signs of Suicide Program provides psychoeducation about depression as a treatable disorder uses peer-to-peer messaging to teach youth to help friends in need, improving young people’s knowledge about mental health and adaptive attitudes. The SOS Program has shown a reduction in self-reported suicide attempts by 40-64% in randomized control studies (Aseltine et al., 2007 & Schilling et al., 2016).

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify five warning signs and risk factors for depression and suicidality in youth.
  2. Discuss research on the safety, efficacy, and feasibility of implementing a school or community-based suicide prevention program.
  3. Identify three effective ways for schools and community-based organizations to collaborate to support youth suicide prevention efforts.
  4. Utilize best practices and step-by-step plans for implementing a school or community-based suicide prevention program.

Format

Individual Presentation

Are you willing to present virtually?

1

Biographical Sketch

Meghan Diamon, LMSW, Suicide Prevention Specialist for MindWise Innovations has been serving as a content expert for SOS Signs of Suicide for the past six years. Prior to joining the SOS team, Meghan gained clinical and case management experience with adolescents in school-based and community settings. She earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

Keyword Descriptors

suicide prevention, mental health, screening, risk factors, prevention, suicide awareness, suicide education, social emotional, wellness

Presentation Year

2021

Start Date

3-9-2021 1:40 PM

End Date

3-9-2021 2:40 PM

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Mar 9th, 1:40 PM Mar 9th, 2:40 PM

ACT to save a life: evidence-based youth suicide prevention

Session 6 Breakouts

Youth suicide is a preventable tragedy that can occur when children's mental health needs are unmet. Participants will discuss published research on risk factors for youth suicide, how to implement an evidence-based prevention program, and how to tackle common obstacles encountered. Participants will be prepared to mobilize school staff, parents, and community members to address the critical issues of depression awareness and suicide prevention.