Dos and Don'ts in Designing School-Based Awareness Programs for Suicide Prevention

Crisis. 2022 Jul;43(4):270-277. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000783. Epub 2021 May 27.

Abstract

Background: Despite the promising evidence for the effectiveness of school-based awareness programs in decreasing the rates of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in young people, no guidelines on the targets and methods of safe and effective awareness programs exist. Aims: This study intends to distill recommendations for school-based suicide awareness and prevention programs from experts. Method: A three-stage Delphi survey was administered to an expert panel between November 2018 and March 2019. A total of 214 items obtained from open-ended questions and the literature were rated in two rounds. Consensus and stability were used as assessment criteria. Results: The panel consisted of 19 participants in the first and 13 in the third stage. Recommended targets included the reduction of suicide attempts, the enhancement of help-seeking and peer support, as well as the promotion of mental health literacy and life skills. Program evaluation, facilitating access to healthcare, and long-term action plans across multiple levels were among the best strategies for the prevention of adverse effects. Limitations: The study is based on opinions of a rather small number of experts. Conclusion: The promotion of help-seeking and peer support as well as facilitating access to mental health-care utilities appear pivotal for the success of school-based awareness programs.

Keywords: Delphi survey; awareness; school; suicide prevention; young people.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted*

Grant support

Funding: This study was part of the project “Network for suicide prevention in Dresden (NeSuD)” at the Technische Universität Dresden and the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany. The project was financed by the German Ministry of Health (Budesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG; funding number: ZMVI1-2517FSB148). Open access publication enabled by Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.