SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention

SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention ProgramOverview

Dear Parents and Guardians:                                                                           
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 (among the most common of mental illnesses) appears to be occurring at a much earlier age. Depression—which is treatable—is a leading risk factor for suicide. In addition, self-injury has become a growing problem among youth.

To proactively address these issues, Edmonds School District is offering depression awareness and suicide prevention training as part of the SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program. The program encourages students to seek help if they are concerned about themselves or a friend. The SOS Program is the only youth suicide prevention program that has demonstrated an improvement in students’ knowledge and adaptive attitudes about suicide risk and depression, as well as a reduction in actual suicide attempts. Listed on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, 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).


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 suicide risk 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 trusted adult about their concerns
  • To teach students who they can turn to at school for help, if they need it

In the coming months the SOS program will be presented to 7th, 8th and 9th grade students.  At the end of the lesson, each child will complete a response or screening form. If their responses indicate they are at significant risk of suicidal thinking a school counselor will contact them within 24 hours to address their concerns related to the SOS program content.


If you do NOT want your child to participate in this SOS Program, please call the Counseling Center of your students’ school. If we do not hear from you, we will assume your child has permission to participate in this program.  If you choose to opt out, your student will participate in an alternate activity during the SOS lesson.

Screening Form Example #1

BASED ON THE VIDEO AND/OR SCREENING, I FEEL
I need to talk to someone …
I do not need to talk to someone …

ABOUT MYSELF OR A FRIEND.

NAME (PRINT)                                                                                                      

COUNSELOR OR HOMEROOM TEACHER

IF YOU WISH TO SPEAK WITH SOMEONE, YOU WILL BE CONTACTED WITHIN 24 HOURS. IF YOU WISH TO SPEAK WITH SOMEONE SOONER, PLEASE APPROACH STAFF IMMEDIATELY.

Screening Form Example #2

(NOTE: Schools pick which form to use with students based on student need.)

SOS Program Parent Portal

SOS Signs of Suicide Website
To learn more about the SOS program parents and guardians may login to their student's school:

School Username  Password 
 Alderwood Middle  alderwoodms-par  ams-parent2018
 Brier Terrace Middle  brierterms-par  btms-parent2018
 College Place Middle  collegeplms-par  cpmparent2018
 Edmonds eLearning  edmondsea-par  eela-parent2018
 Edmonds Heights K-12  edmondsk12-par  ehk12-parent2018
 Edmonds-Woodway High  edmondswhs-par  ewhs-parent2018
 Lynnwood High  lynnwoodhs-par  lhparent2018
 Madrona K-8  madronams-par  madms-parent2018
 Maplewood Parent Coop  maplewoodcoop-par  mwcoop-parent2018
 Meadowdale High  meadowdalehs-par  mhs-parent2018
 Meadowdale Middle  meadowdalems-par  mms-parent2018
 Mountlake Terrace High  mountlaketer-par  mlth-parent2018
 Scriber Lake High  scriberlake-par  slh-parent2018

Frequently Asked Questions:

Youth Suicide Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from the Youth Suicide Prevention Program

(https://www.crisisconnections.org)


1. Why do some teenagers commit suicide?

We don’t know for sure, because when youth die by suicide they take the answers with them. But teens who attempt suicide and survive tell us that they wanted to die to end the pain of living. They are often experiencing a number of stressors and feel that they do not have the strength or desire to continue living. We also believe that the majority of youth who die by suicide have a mental disorder, like depression, which is often undiagnosed, untreated or both.


2. What are the most common warning signs?

Some estimate as many as 80% of those thinking about suicide want others to be aware of their emotional pain and stop them from dying. A warning sign does not automatically mean a person is going to attempt suicide, but it should be taken seriously. The warning signs that we pay particular attention to are: a prior suicide attempt, talking about suicide and making a plan, giving away prized possessions, preoccupation with death, signs of depression, hopelessness and anxiety, increased drug and alcohol use.


3. How many people know about the warning signs and how to detect if a teen is going to commit suicide?

Not enough, but more are learning everyday. YSPP works to teach professionals, parents, educators, clergy and especially young people. We believe that middle & high school students and college students can and should learn the warning signs and intervention strategies to help their friends. We don’t expect them to conduct a professional assessment but we want them to befriend a person in despair and offer support and reassurance and referral to help.


4. Are there particular youth who are more at-risk of suicide?

Some reports suggest that gay and lesbian youth are two to three times more likely to complete suicide than other youth. Alcohol and substance abuse also place a youth at higher risk for suicide.


5. Is there an increased risk for suicide because of bullying behavior?

Yes; being a victim, perpetrator or even a witness to bullying has been associated with multiple behavioral, emotional, and social problems, including an increased risk for suicidal ideation.

6. Are the suicide rates different for males and females?

In Washington and across the country, males are much more likely to die by suicide, while girls are more likely to make suicide attempts that result in hospitalization. Hanging and use of a firearm are the most frequently used methods for youth suicide. Cutting and overdose are the most frequently used methods for suicide attempts that result in hospitalization.


7. If someone suspects that a friend or family member is considering suicide, what should they do?

There are three very important things to do if you notice the warning signs for suicide or the young person tells you directly that they are thinking about suicide. The first thing is to always show the person that you are concerned about them – listen without judgment, ask about their feelings and avoid trying to come up with a solution to their problem. Next ask directly about suicide – be direct without being confrontational; say “are you feeling so bad that you are thinking about suicide?” Finally, if the answer to your question is “yes” or you think it is yes, go get help – call a crisis line, visit the school counselor, tell a parent or refer the teen to someone with professional skills to provide help. Never keep talk of suicide a secret!


8. How many teenagers die by suicide in America each year? In Washington?

In 2001 in the US, 4,250 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 died by suicide. This is an average of one suicide roughly every two hours! The national rate of suicide (per 100,000) is 9.9. In Washington State during the same year there were 90 suicides, and a rate of 7.0. On a recent survey in Washington middle and high schools, 1 out of 10 students indicated that they had made a suicide attempt in the past 12 months. 1 out of 5 indicated that they had seriously thought about it.


9. Why has the suicide rate been increasing in the past few decades?

Suicide rates in Washington and across the USA have actually gone down since 1990. When the Youth Suicide Prevention Program began in 1995 the number of suicides and the rate were both higher than they are now. There was a significant increase in the late 70’s and early 80’s but the trend lately has been downward. It may seem that there is an increase because you are reading and hearing more about suicide. Media reports hopefully are educating about the warning signs and the resources for help.


10 . Why are some state’s teenage suicide rates much higher than others?

Youth suicide rates are highest in Alaska and the Rocky Mountain states. If you map the youth suicide rates by state, there is a striking difference between the eastern half of the USA and mountain regions in the west. We don’t know for sure why these rates are higher, but some theories include the largely rural territory, the vast land allocations to Native American reservations, poverty and a lack of easy access to resources.


11. What are common myths about teen suicide?

Some believe if you ask directly about suicide that you “plant” an idea in the brain of a teenager; this is just not true. Others think that teens who talk about suicide are not really serious about dying – they think they are just seeking attention.


12. How can schools and communities work together to prevent suicide?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that local mental health agencies, crisis centers, clergy, health departments, medical organizations, injury prevention agencies, schools and other community members should work together to develop goals and strategies to prevent suicide.


13. What is a family's reaction when a teen family member completes suicide?

Most feel a combination of emotions: anger, sadness, guilt, shame and fear. They wonder what they could have done and why they didn’t do more. Suicide is different from other kinds of sudden death because the reason for the death is difficult to understand. With a car accident there is an external explanation or cause – an icy road, loss of vehicle control, etc. With a homicide, the grief-stricken can point to a perpetrator. With suicide, we don’t have an external cause, and so we ask ourselves over and over: 'why?'


14. Is it okay for a school to plant a tree or dedicate a bench in memory of a youth who has died by suicide?

These types of memorials can keep the death 'alive' and serve as a grim reminder of the loss. Because of the real concern about contagion there is a delicate balance between commemorating the life of the deceased and glamorizing a suicide.

Community Referral Resource List

Websites:

Crisis:

  • King County Crisis Clinic:  1-866-427-4747

  • Snohomish County Crisis Line:  1-800-584-3578

  • Teen Link (talk to a peer, 6-10pm) 1-866-833-6546

  • Care Crisis Line:  425-258-4357 or 1-800-584-3578

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)

  • Trevor Project (LGBTQ youth): 1-866-488-7386

  • Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741

Social Services:

  • Volunteers of America: 211 or 1-800-223-8145

  • Family Help Line:  800-932-HOPE (4673)

  • Family Health Hotline:  1-800-322-2588 (All languages)

Counseling:

(206) 870-5191  www.aplaceofhope.com

  • Christena Greenlee, MSW, LICSW:  8000 - 212th Street SW, Suite B, Edmonds, WA 98026. (425) 870-6975. Email:  christenarg@hotmail.com Web: greenleecounseling.com

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center of Seattle:  1200 5th Avenue #800, Seattle, WA 98101.  Phone: 206-374-0109

  • National Mental Health Association:  800-969-NMHA (6642)

  • American Academy for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:  800-333-7636. Web: www.aacap.org

Alcohol/Drug Abuse:

  • National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hot Line:  1-800-252-6465

  • Sea MAR Counseling Services:  425-347-5415

  • Pacific Treatment Alternative:  425-259-7142

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:  800-729-6686

SOS Program

Signs of Suicide and Signs of Self-Injury Prevention Program for High School

Summary of Program: 

The SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program is an award-winning, nationally recognized program designed for middle and high school-age students. The program teaches students how to identify the symptoms of depression and suicidality in themselves or their friends, and encourages help-seeking through the use of the ACT® technique (Acknowledge, Care, Tell). It is the only school-based suicide prevention program listed on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression, while reducing suicide attempts. It educates students, parents and trains staff members on how to recognize and address signs of depression or self-mutilation in a comprehensive and consistent manner, thus addressing our need to provide education to students, act in a proactive manner and screen all students in a building for their level of self-harm.

Currently the state’s Grade Level Equivalents (GLE)’s 2.4.1 and 2.4.3 require school districts to teach the signs of depression, prevent injury to self and others and stress-management techniques.  The student SOS lesson is delivered through one class period – that’s all.  The MTHS Student Assistance Team became aware of the growing need for this type of program through the increasing number of teacher and parent referrals regarding student depression/cutting and pleads for help in addressing these issues.  Our MTHS team will schedule the lessons and develop a plan to address student’s emotional/social needs as a result of the lesson.


Why Participate in the SOS Program?

The SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention program is the only school-based suicide prevention program listed on SAMSHA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression, while reducing suicide attempts. In a randomized controlled study, the SOS program showed a reduction in self-reported suicide attempts by 40% (BMC Public Health, July 2007). The SOS program has been used by thousands of schools nationwide since 2000. It has proven successful at increasing help-seeking by students concerned about themselves or a friend.


Furthermore, research shows that a positive relationship with an adult is one of the most critical factors in preventing student violence, suicide, and bullying. The SOS program encourages students to identify a trusted adult in their life and teaches them how to turn to them when in need.


Sadly, suicide is the third leading cause of death among children ages 10-24 (4,320 deaths in 2007) (CDC, 2007). In children and adolescents, an untreated depressive episode may last between 7 to 9 months, potentially an entire academic year. Ninety percent of children and adolescents who die by suicide have at least one major psychiatric disorder (Gould et al., 2003). Suicidal children and adolescents report feelings of intense emotional distress involving depression, anger, anxiety, hopelessness, and worthlessness and an inability to change frustrating circumstances or to find a solution to their problems. Social stressors can include getting into trouble at school or with the law, a broken relationship with a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or a fight among friends. While these stressors are rarely a sufficient cause of suicide, they can be precipitating factors in young people.

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