Volume 26, Issue 3 (1997)
School-Based Suicide Prevention Programs: Are They Effective?
James J. Mazza
Abstract: The efficacy of adolescent suicide prevention programs in school settings has recently been criticized, especially for students who are at-risk for suicidal behavior. The theoretical orientation, targeted populations, goals, and methods for examining efficacy of school-based programs are reviewed. Results showed that most programs are of short duration, follow a stress-related model, and fail to assess actual suicidal behaviors. The methodology for measuring efficacy for most programs also was flawed, using acquisition, knowledge, or attitude changes as a measure of effectiveness, rather than a reduction in suicidal behavior. Thus, the effectiveness of these school-based prevention programs in reducing actual adolescent suicidal behavior is seriously questioned. The mixed results reported in this review and their implications for school psychologists, mental health professionals, and students are discussed. Suggestions and recommendations are made for current practice and future research.
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