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School-Based Programming for Suicide Prevention

School-based suicide prevention programs have become widespread. Because suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth, school-based interventions are a good way to reach this at-risk population. Teenagers and young adults (in their early 20s) experience marked change and growth and may need additional support to navigate life events, such as education, employment, moving, and relationships. School-based programs are one good way to reach youth early to help them feel well-supported and give them skills to cope and seek help when needed.

Many school-based programs use peer leaders in schools. Peer leaders can help identify students who may have suicidal ideation (suicidal thoughts) and bridge the gap between students and adults. Such programs have found these peer leaders to be more connected with adults and are more likely to refer a suicidal friend to an adult, which could ultimately save a life.

Other programs focus on training school counselors, teachers, and other staff to know the risk factors for suicide and identify students who may be suicidal.

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Resources to Learn More

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
Document
Provides a series of chapters detailing the steps needed for high school staff and community partners to design and implement a comprehensive school-based suicide prevention program.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Date: 6/2012