Signs of Suicide Prevention Program Comes to SRHS

The following article was written by Sanborn Regional High School Guidance Counselor Heidi Leavitt:

The adolescent years are marked by a roller-coaster ride of emotions – difficult for youths, their parents and educators.  It is easy to misread depression as normal adolescent turmoil; however, depression appears to be occurring at a much earlier age.  Depression- which is treatable – is a leading risk factor for suicide.   To proactively address these issues, Sanborn Regional High School is offering depression awareness and suicide prevention training as part of the SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program.  The program has proven to be successful at increasing help seeking by students concerned about themselves or a friend and is the only school based suicide prevention program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for its National Registry of Evidence-Based programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression, while reducing suicide.  Studies have shown that as many as 86 percent of parents were unaware of their of their child’s suicidal behavior. In a randomized control study, the SOS High School Program showed a reduction in self-reported suicide attempts by 40% (BMC Public Health, July 2007).

Our goals in participating in this program are straightforward:
·         To help our students understand that depression is a treatable illness
·         To explain that suicide is a preventable tragedy that often occurs as a result of untreated depression
·         To provide students training in how to identify serious depression and potential suicidality in themselves or a friend
·         To impress upon youth that they can help themselves or a friend by taking the simple step of talking to a responsible adult about their concerns
·         To help students know whom in the school they can turn to for help, if they need it

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among people aged 10-24.  More than 90% of youth who die by suicide have a diagnosable, treatable mental disorder but 80% of youth with mental illness are not identified or receiving services.  Childhood is an important time to promote healthy development, as many adult mental health disorders have related antecedent problems in childhood.  Introducing prevention early may help promote prevention throughout the lifecycle.

The goal of the SOS Program is for our school staff, students and our parents to learn about depression and suicide and to increase confidence to seek help for those who need it.  We, with your help as parents/guardians, are taking an important step toward protecting our students and your children by identifying mental health problems and encouraging them to seek help from trusted adults.  The guidance staff at the high school will be introducing this program to the freshman wellness classes beginning in February.  We will be holding a parent information session on January 26th before the open house.  We will be showing the student training video and we will have copies of the materials available for parents to view.  More information about the parent information session and permission slips to participate in the program will be available in January.

If you have any questions or concerns about the program, please contact your child’s guidance counselor.

Cited with permission from Douglas Jacobs, MD  SOS Signs of Suicide High School Program


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