Suicide Prevention, Coursework Example
Why is an intervention needed?
Suicide is a common problem that plagues adolescents today. Many individuals choose suicide as an option because they do not receive the proper support that they need at home or in school. Developing a proper sense of belonging is an important part of childhood development, so it is necessary to consider that individuals that choose suicide or consider this action may be demonstrating that they have needs that are not being met. In the school psychology setting, it is important to use this information to develop an enhanced understanding of what the needs of high school students are and how programs can be implemented to address these needs accordingly.
According to The Parent Resource Program, suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 to 24 (The Parent Resource Program, n.d). Furthermore, there are an average of 5,400 suicide attempts made by students in grades 7-12 each day. A majority of teenagers who intend to take their own lives give clear warning signs that can be used as an indicator that an intervention might be a reasonable resolution to this problem. Therefore, it is reasonable to implement intervention programs into the school setting to provide students and teachers with an understanding of what could be done to detect these early warning signs and become directly involved with opportunities to preserve the lives of their students and to counsel them to health.
Studies have shown that children from households in which their parents have abusive relationships predispose the children for having similar experiences. Furthermore, when parenting is inconsistent, children never truly learn right from wrong and therefore have trouble applying society’s rules in their own lives. This allows them to become confused, which may add to their feelings of hopelessness and depression. Friends are also a major influence because adolescents spend large portions of their time with these individuals as well. When their friends become more likely to engage in criminal behavior, they are likely to join in and participate. These relationships have the potential to change during the youth’s development, fostering a changed perspective of life that could help them remain on the correct track. However, this effect is situational and depends upon the individual. These relationships can therefore be used as support systems to help individuals that are experiencing suicidal thoughts to gain the help that they need before they commit this action and cause an irreversible change.
Suicide is defined as the act of taking one’s own life. People wish to commit suicide for a variety of reasons, but it is important to consider that life is precious and it is important for it to be protected. Furthermore, it is important to consider that suicide is said to be a symptom of depression (Reynolds et al., 2006). Depression is characterized by prolonged sadness and can contribute to an individual’s desire to take their own life. Therefore, suicide could be considered a manifestation of mental illness and it is important to put forth effort to ensure that individuals do not take their own lives while they are not in the mental capacity to be able to make these types of decisions. Regardless of what people believe concerning the legality of suicide, it is important to consider that if people’s decisions are to be respected with regards to suicide, it is necessary to ensure that these individually truly want the suicide and are not in a temporary bout of depression.
Suicide rates have been found to be exceptionally high among low income adolescents that are members of minority groups. The link between socioeconomic status and suicide appears to be abnormally high. According to social science researchers,
“Recent Swedish studies have concluded that first-generation immigrants tend to have higher rates of suicide than the population of their country of origin, but the rate is higher still in their Swedish-born children… In addition to cultural factors that mediate suicide rates in ethnic minority groups, the acceptability of suicide in the ethnic majority population and the response of the host culture to the ethnic minority group are important. Although it has been argued that ethnic minority groups will acquire the rates of suicide of the ethnic majority group over time, there have been persistently lower rates of suicide in some groups – for instance African Americans – and consistently higher rates in other ethnic minority populations, such as the native populations of the USA and Australia” (McKenzie et al., 2013).
Therefore, it appears that minorities tend to commit suicide more frequently because they feel threatened by the majority culture. As such, these individuals are more likely to experience depression-like symptoms because they feel true hopelessness with regards to their ability to rise beyond their positions in society. To foster a sense of belonging, some adolescents become members of gangs. The strong bonds formed with gang members help facilitate a feeling of safety. It is important for adolescents to learn to react to social injustice by engaging in actions that will help create change instead of those that will perpetuate violence. Furthermore, in light of current movements to bring attention to the problems that minorities face, such as the Black Lives Matter Movement, many social and mental health groups aim to prevent minority groups from feeling that they are treated so unfairly by society that they must take their own lives. It is of utmost importance to protect young individuals in these minority groups so they are able to learn from an early age that support systems as available to help protect them against violence at both the hands of others and themselves. By providing minority high school students with a means to cope with such mistreatment and to provide them with opportunities that will help them excel in their future lives, it is reasonable to create change in a manner that will reduce the frequency of suicide among the minority teenager population.
What are the goals, target population and desired outcomes?
It is challenging for adolescents to determine when their feelings or abnormal or when they may need to seek help. Furthermore, individuals in this age group are unlikely to confide in adults because they often believe that their trust will be violated. Thus, it is necessary to determine how adolescent minority high school students can be provided with educational programs to help them gain an understanding of how to recognize these abnormal behaviors for themselves and for their friends, and to provide them with a protocol that will allow them to understand the next steps involved in seeking help. In the high school setting, training social workers and psychologists are available to provide students with suicidal thoughts and tendencies to recognize their cry for help and assist them in taking the next steps they may need to rebuild their love for life and self-esteem. Early detection of suicidal thoughts is important to lowering the frequency with which individuals in this demographic commit suicide. By gaining a greater understanding of how using friends and school workers as social support helps reduce the frequency of suicide, we may be able to gain a more effective understanding of how to implement suicide prevention programs in the school setting in a manner that will maximize student involvement.
Studies have shown that family and peer relationships have a potential to increase the mental health of individuals from an early age (Siegel & Walsh, 2014). Behaviors of friends and family members work to help adolescents come to understand which actions are considered normal and which are abnormal. Therefore, this intervention would include providing knowledge to adolescents to help them gain an understanding of suicide and depression and how they can intervene to provide their friends or acquaintances with much needed support. This program implementation will be loosely based on the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention program (Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program). This program provides a checklist for administrators, teachers, and social workers to determine whether a relevant suicide prevention program is in place in their school. The program recommends issuing a crisis-response plan for incidents that occur both on and off campus, that teachers be provided with program related training, and that all staff members have access to relevant protocols.
The first step of the program will be to produce literature regarding spreading the awareness of suicide by providing an understanding of statistics related to suicide and warning signs to observe among students who have previously attempted suicide or who are having suicidal thoughts (Linehan et al., 1983). Next, it is necessary to put a protocol in place to help staff members and students determine how to react to a potential attempt. To do so, the individual should attempt to intervene to prevent death, assure the individual that he or she is not along and that help is on the way, to inform an administrator and or relevant emergency response team, to prevent other studies from noticing the event, and to host counseling meetings for individuals closest to the student or those who were directly impacted by the attempt (Isaac et al., 2009). An assembly will be held to teach students, staff, and other relevant personnel about the suicide intervention program. To supplement these efforts, counselors will directly contact the friends of students who have attempted suicide in the past and have a private meeting with them to ensure that they have knowledge of the warning signs that have been indicated (Granello, 2010).
It is important to consider that individuals who have attempted to commit suicide or have experienced suicide attempts individuals often have a low self-esteem, which is associated negative thinking and emotional stress (Mullens, 2004). While there are many reasons associated with suicide causes, most are liked to diminished self-esteem and factors that contribute to this diminished state of mind. This can result in a morphed sense of what behaviors are acceptable and which should be avoided and how to properly react to problems that these individuals encounter in their lives. In positive relationships, effective parenting can help negate outside influences by guiding the child during his or her development. On the other hand, children raised in broken homes are more likely to exhibit antisocial behavior and hyperactivity, demonstrating that there is a clear impact on the behavior of these individuals. Researchers also postulate that children that observe abuse in their own homes are more likely to become mentally disturbed and act as bullies among their peers. These children are more likely to experience depressive symptoms as well. Because it is occasionally challenging to notice signs of bullying and neglect, it is necessary for the friends and family members of these adolescents to become involved in their care and report any sudden changes in behavior of their friends to a qualified professional within their school that may be able to better diagnose the situation. Interactions with such qualified mental health professionals and social workers can help these individuals redevelop their lost self-esteem and help them take steps to get past any traumatic experiences that they may have encountered.
Thus, individuals who lead the implementation of the intervention should approach it with an understanding that there are many different causes of suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts (McAuliffe et al., 2007). Therefore, it would be beneficial for friends of individuals who are at risk for suicide to report potential risk factors to the school psychology team so counseling sessions can be designed in order to address their specific emotional needs. It is important to make students understand that reporting warning signs and possible indicators of risk factors is an important part of their involvement in making sure that their friends and colleagues stay safe.
How does your program use scientific knowledge and best practices of what works?
The implementation of this intervention program will be largely based on a statistical and evidence-based understanding of suicide prevention methods. This technique draws directly from the understanding that teenagers of minority backgrounds frequently do not receive the support that they need both from society and from the adults in their lives to help them maintain a healthy mindset. As such, depression is common. This intervention theory draws from the understanding that therapy helps individuals experiencing depression or thoughts related to suicide understand the source of their emotions and help them advance towards recovery. By recruiting the friends and/or family of these individuals to work closely with designated professionals at school, it will be easier to detected whether signs of suicide and depression are present in addition to helping these individuals create an action plan that will provide the afflicted individual with actionable next steps to begin the road to recovery.
Using knowledge of the program as it continues, it will be plausible to incorporate a updated understanding of peer-reviewed literature into the framework if any relevant publications are issued during this time period. Furthermore, it would be necessary to review the success of the program and to make changes if there are no significant noticeable changes in the participants of this intervention. Overall, it is important for suicidal thoughts and attempts to be discussed thoroughly with individuals that can provide help. While it is always necessary to refine this process until it can be determined how positive results can be maximized, it would be valuable to begin the intervention as planned, with this current understanding of knowledge. After approximately 12-months of the program’s implementation, it would be valuable to reassess the program and determine how it could be altered in order to achieve a greater reach to students in addition to how it could confer greater benefit.
How will this program fit in with existing programs?
There is currently no intervention program of this type before. However, there are currently psychologists and social workers staffed within a majority of schools, so these institutions already have the necessary resources available to students who have previously attempted suicide. However, there is a need to use this type of program to support current health initiatives in place at schools. Doing so will bring attention to this type of program and allow the friends and teachers of students are thinking about suicide or who have made such attempts in the past to come forward to the appropriate support services available within their schools and begin to take action in a manner that will allow for the greatest extent of benefit. The concept that this program is completely new is false because it is loosely based on the concept that therapy is an effective method to provide mental health counseling to mental health patients. In this instance, elements of individual and group therapy are combined because psychologists and social workers can act as one-on-one therapists and consultants, while friends and family members can provide regular informal group support. When individuals with depression and suicidal thoughts become more aware of the extent to which they have achieved love and belonging in their community, they are less likely to need to take action on their suicidal thoughts.
How will you carry out the program?
To effectively implement this program, it will be necessary to begin effective collaborations with school administrators. Building relationships with principals and assistant principals is one way to bring the program into the school setting. Once there, it would be necessary to explain the purpose of the program to the school administrators. To help them gain an understanding of the program’s mission and how the mission will be carried out. Furthermore, it would be beneficial for program heads to host a school assembly in which the risk factors for suicide in addition to information regarding resources for help could be provided, introducing the intervention to the whole school community so that everyone could become aware of it. In this manner, individual students could be made to understand the help that they or their friends would need in addition to next steps that they would be able to take within the school’s setting to ensure that these steps can be carried out. It is important to approach the school as a community. Since communities typically wish to support those of their own, this suicide prevention program can be marketed to school administration and health care professionals in a manner that will allow them to understand the utility of this effort.
How well was the program carried out?
It is expected that the program would be carried out effectively. Since the conditions from the program that are put forth are broad, it is possible for the school to utilize their understanding of the program in a manner that aids students in grades 10-12. Thus, it is likely that if this program were to be carried out at a series of different high schools, it would look different in each case. However, this customizable nature of the program would allow the program to be effective because even though the general requirements of the program are similar, there is a lot of chance for nuance within the individual school.
How well did the program work?
School psychologists and social workers could be used to determine how the mental state of the individual has changed following counseling and the implementation of the intervention and whether they believe that the program has contributed to this outcome. This information could be used to refine the program in a more effective manner. Furthermore, gaining a qualitative understanding of the differential strategies used within the school will allow the leaders of the program to generate an understanding of effective changes to this intervention that could be used across the board.
What can you do to improve the program for next time?
To improve the program for next time, it might be necessary to increase the frequency with which education programs are provided to students at these schools in addition to altering how the information is delivered. While it was proposed that the information should first be spread by using the assembly format, it is necessary to create the sense that the program is a normality that should always be followed when noticing that a classmate’s behaviors have changed. Therefore, it would be helpful to generate relationships with health teachers, biology teachers, and nurses to help them understand how they can play a part in the implementation of this program.
Improving the program is expected to occur even without prior planning because the original plan of the intervention stated that the program will change based on the statistics calculated and observations made with regards to the program. Thus, it is expected that the program will change yearly to reflect the shifting needs of students in addition to information regarding best practices that are used in general or in different schools in order to better shape practice of the plan. A final consideration that must be made with regards to improve the program is better forethought with regards to how partner school will be selected or how partnerships with school administrators will be formed. While it is helpful for the intervention to begin in many places at once, during the pilot phase it may be better to start the program in one school and make any necessary changes to it before it is implemented in a second location. It ultimately appears that experience will define practice with regards to this particular intervention.
What is being done to institutionalize the program?
Overall, the program would be institutionalized by gaining contact with high school administrators in areas that have a high minority student population. This will ensure that the target demographic is easily reached. Once a partnership is established in at least one school, it would be reasonable to organize the assembly immediately to provide an educational presentation about suicide and what teens could do when they need help or need to find help for their friends. The presentation will include mention of how signs of depression or mental trauma could be detected. The next step will be encouraging students to participate in this program after they are able to detect the warning signs and symptoms of suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
It is expected that this program will bring significant benefit to the many minority students across the country that may be depressed or experiencing suicidal thoughts and tendencies. It is important to show these individuals that their friends and families are available to help them through their challenges and that they are willing to take whatever steps necessary to see their loved one happy. Bringing a school into the suicide prevention program is effective because most students spend time at school and there are mental health professionals available to help counsel students with regards to their needs. Thus, this intervention would give rise to a cost effective program that will likely be effective in protecting the lives of many. While it is plausible that this intervention will not be effective right away, it is imperative that mental health professionals take action to determine the best ways to support the mental health of members of this nation’s youth. Implementing greater support systems for racial and social minorities will help these individuals achieve a greater sense of self-esteem, which will allow them to break through the boundaries that keep them oppressed and subject to this sense of depression in their lives. Creating positive change within schools won’t just positively impact those who participate in these programs; creating a normality of reporting mental health professionals can create change within the country as a whole, allowing students to live happy and healthy lives, independent of their minority status.
Granello, D. (2010). A Suicide Crisis Intervention Model with 25 Practical Strategies for Implementation. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 32(3), 218-235.
Isaac, M.; Elias, B.; Katz, L.Y.; Shay-Lee, B.; Deane, F.P.; Enns, M.W.; Sareen, J. (2009). Gatekeeper Training as a Preventative Intervention for Suicide: A Systematic Review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54 (4): 260–268.
Linehan, Marsha M.; Goodstein, Judith L.; Nielsen, Stevan L.; Chiles, John A. (1983). Reasons for staying alive when you are thinking of killing yourself: The Reasons for Living Inventory. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51 (2): 276–286.
Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program. (2009). A Resource for School Personnel. Retrieved from http://www.maine.gov/suicide/docs/Guidelines%2010-2009–w%20discl.pdf
McAuliffe, N.; Perry, L. ( 2007). Making it Safer: A Health Centre’s Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Psychiatric Quarterly, 78 (4): 295–307.
McKenzie, K., Serafty, M., Crawford, M. (2003). Suicide in ethnic minority groups. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 183(2): 100-101.
Mullens, A.D. (2004). The Relationship Between Juvenile Delinquency and Family Unit Structure. Marshall University. Retrieved from http://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1743&context=etd
Reynolds, S.K.; Lindenboim, N.; Comtois, K.A.; Murray, A.; Linehan, M.M. (2006). Risky Assessments: Participant Suicidality and Distress Associated with Research Assessments in a Treatment Study of Suicidal Behavior”. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 36 (1): 19–33.
Siegel, L.J., Welsh, B.C. (2014). Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. Wadsworth Publishing.
The Parent Resource Program. (n.d.). Youth Suicide Statistics. Retrieved from http://jasonfoundation.com/prp/facts/youth-suicide-statistics/
Time is precious
don’t waste it!