Universal Approaches to Youth Suicide Prevention

Edited by Dwight L. Evans, Edna B. Foa, Raquel E. Gur, Herbert Hendin, Charles P. O'Brien, Martin E.P. Seligman and B. Timothy Walsh

in Treating and Preventing Adolescent Mental Health Disorders

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780195173642
Published online August 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199951024 | DOI:

Series: Adolescent Mental Health Initiative

 Universal Approaches to Youth Suicide Prevention

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  • Psychiatry
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


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In this chapter, we focus on suicide prevention programs that have taken a universal approach, targeting youth in specific settings regardless of individual risk factors. One particularly widespread approach targets youth where they are most accessible–in the schools. Although the ultimate goal of all suicide prevention programs is to reduce death by suicide, school-based programs typically focus on more proximal outcomes.

Two broad types of universal prevention programs have been especially common. The first includes educational programs that aim to increase students' knowledge and awareness about suicidal behavior, encourage troubled students to seek help, and improve recognition of at-risk students by teachers, counselors, and other “gatekeepers” within the school or community settings. In the second category are screening programs that seek to identify and refer to treatment youth who are at risk for suicidal behavior.

In each category, suicide prevention efforts have been separately designed for high school and college students. In the following pages, we summarize these universal programs, identifying for each broad type the underlying assumptions and specific program examples, and providing a summary critique of the approach.

Chapter.  6908 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry ; Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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