Depression Awareness Suicide Prevention ProgramThe teen years are often a roller-coaster ride of emotions with this time being especially susceptible to wide variations in mood and risky behaviors. It is easy to misread depression as normal adolescent turmoil; however, depression appears to be occurring at a much earlier age, and the past decade has seen teen suicide rates double. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 11 to 18 year old youth, and there are often warning signs that are overlooked to prevent these tragedies.
The LCPS Depression Awareness Suicide Prevention program is based on the Screening for Mental Health, Inc., Signs of Suicide Prevention Program, an award-winning program, which has shown in randomized control study a reduction in self-reported suicide attempts by 40%. Through classroom instruction and an educational video using vignettes, students are taught to recognize the signs of depression, self-injury, and suicide in themselves or their friends and to respond effectively using the help-seeking technique known as ACT (Acknowledge-Care-Tell).
To increase awareness of the signs of depression and suicide risk, LCPS will be implementing the Depression Awareness Suicide Prevention program during this school year to all ninth grade students throughout Loudoun County who are enrolled in Health classes. This program will be implemented by LCPS school psychologists and school social workers.
Our goals in participating in this program are straightforward:
- To help our students recognize the symptoms of depression and to understand that depression is a treatable illness,
- To provide students training in how to identify serious depression and potential suicidality in a friend,
- To explain that suicide is a preventable tragedy, not a normal response to stress, that often occurs as a result of untreated depression, and
- To impress upon teens that they can help a potentially suicidal friend by taking the simple step of talking to a responsible adult about their concerns.