Mar 16, 2007


The Signs of Suicide Prevention Program (SOS) was designed
to combat increasing rates of suicide among high-school youth. This
school-based program works to prevent suicide by raising student awareness of
depression and other risk factors. The program also includes a short
depression screening for students to evaluate their own risk factors for
depression. The study described below found the intervention to be
effective in increasing knowledge about suicide and depression, as well as
decreasing suicidal ideations and attempts.


Target population: High-school aged youth

SOS program is designed to teach youth the signs of suicide as well as what to
do if they recognize these signs in others. The students are taught the
ACT plan as a response to recognition of suicidal behavior. The ACT plan
involves Acknowledgement of suicidal behavior, demonstration of Care for
suicidal students, and Telling responsible adults about recognized suicidal
behavior. As a second step to the program, students are asked to complete
the Columbia Depression Scale (CDS) as a screening for depression, a suicide
risk factor. The program is centered around a
video program which is followed by group discussions about suicide.


AseltineJr., R. H. & DeMartino, R. (2004).An outcome evaluation of the SOS suicide prevention program.
American Journal of Public Health, 7,446-452.

Evaluated population: 2100 students from 5
high schools in Hartford, Connecticut
and Columbus, Georgia. These students were
in grades 9-12 in the Hartford schools and were
exclusively in 9th grade in the Columbus schools. The sample was evenly
split between male and female and had a racially diverse background with
approximately 6-39% White, 20-37% African-American, 8-59% Hispanic, and 15-17%
other ethnicity students.

Approach: Students were randomly assigned to conditions by a computerized scheduling
program which designated whether they would take the SOS program in the first
or second semester of the school year. Those taking the class in the
first semester were used as the treatment group while those taking it in the
second semester were the controls. The program involved two school days
of video presentations and discussions about suicide; these materials, a video
and discussion guide, are included with the program. Assessment of the
program was conducted three months after the program’s conclusion and involved
a short self-report questionnaire examining suicide attempts, knowledge about
suicide, and help-seeking behavior.

Results: Students in the treatment condition were found to report fewer suicide
attempts (3.6%) and were also found to have greater knowledge about depression
and suicide when compared with the control group (5.4%). Help seeking
behavior on the other hand, did not vary significantly between treatment and
control conditions. Non-experimental mediating analysis indicates that
knowledge and attitudes mediate the impact of the SOS program on suicide

non-experimental findings of the study with respect to demographic variables
found that females had greater knowledge of suicide but were more likely to
have suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts over the past three months.
Females were also more likely to seek help and intervene to protect friends
from suicidal behavior. Similarly, students in ESL programs reported
higher rates of suicidal ideation and were also more likely to seek help for
depression and suicidal thoughts. The relationship between race and
suicidal factors showed that white students have more knowledge about suicide
and depression and are more likely to report suicidal behavior, while African
American students had fewer reports of suicidal behavior and were less likely
to seek help for problems with depression and suicide.


Link to program curriculum:


Aseltine Jr., R.
H. & DeMartino, R. (2004). An outcome evaluation of the SOS suicide prevention program.
American Journal of Public Health, 7,446-452.

KEYWORDS: High School, Adolescents (12-17), Youth
(16-24), Counseling/Therapy, School-Based, Education, Skills Training,
Social/Emotional Health, Behavioral Problems, Mental Health, Depression,
Suicide, Civic Engagement, Helping Behavior/Social Responsibility, White or
Caucasian, African-American or Black, Hispanic or Latino

information last updated 3/16/07