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Evaluation Planning for Suicide Prevention Programs

Evaluation is an essential tool to determine what does and does not work to reduce or prevent suicide in rural communities. Evaluations can serve multiple purposes, including:

  • Gaining a better understanding of the ease and acceptability of implementing suicide prevention programs in rural areas
  • Learning about and receiving feedback from specific population groups about their experiences receiving services
  • Identifying implementation challenges in real-time and making necessary changes
  • Producing data on the reach and impact of the suicide prevention efforts to include in reports to grantors, collaborators, and the public
  • Identifying the most impactful components of a program to sustain in a resource-limited environment

Planning for an evaluation in advance of implementing a suicide prevention program is an integral part of a successful evaluation. Evaluation planning starts with identifying the program's core components, identifying the program's goals, producing a program logic model, and considering any outside factors or barriers that may impact the evaluation outcome. As discussed in Module 4: Implementation of this toolkit, it is essential to engage partners in planning for the evaluation process. It is also important that an evaluation plan be developed far enough in advance of implementation to ensure data collection and analysis processes are in place, and that program implementers are trained in the process and prepared to collect data at the start of the program. Evaluation efforts should be ongoing to ensure the program remains adaptable to changing conditions and produces positive outcomes.

Resources to Learn More

RAND Suicide Prevention Program Evaluation Toolkit
Offers guidance for suicide prevention program directors and coordinators when evaluating and planning improvements to their programs. Topics cover developing a logic model linking program activities to outcomes, understanding drivers of change in long-term outcomes, selecting and designing an evaluation program, identifying appropriate evaluation measures, and analyzing program data to improve program operations.
Author(s): Acosta, J., Ramchand, R., Becker, A., et al.
Organization(s): RAND Corporation
Date: 2013