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DATE:     September 10, 2001


TO:          Superintendent of Schools


FROM:   J. Duke Albanese, Department of Education Commissioner,

    Kevin Concannon, Department of Human Services Commissioner and

    Lynn Duby, Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance

    Abuse Services


RE:           Suicide Prevention Materials Distribution Advance Notice


We all need to be involved in preventing youth suicide.  Did you know that in Maine:

·        only motor vehicle crashes claim more teen lives than suicide

·        suicide is the second leading cause of death among Maine youth

·        the likelihood of students, faculty or staff encountering a suicidal student is real

·        for every suicide death, it is estimated that as many as 25 young people attempt suicide


Governor Angus S. King, Jr. and the Maine Children’s Cabinet have made youth suicide prevention a priority in Maine.  Through the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program (MYSPP), resources have been dedicated for a statewide youth suicide prevention program.  The ultimate goals of the MYSPP are to reduce the number of attempted and completed youth suicides and to increase access to suicide prevention and intervention services.  In order to meet the goals of the program, many partners are needed to carry out the work.


As one component of the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program (MYSPP), suicide prevention materials have been designed for use in middle and secondary schools as well as communities throughout the state.  Materials will be mailed directly to the Principal’s office in September.  Each Principal will receive: 

Teen Yellow Pages – one for each of the school’s 7-12th grade students. 

Bookcovers – one for each 7-9th grader,

Posters that match the bookcovers to post in various locations throughout the school. 


We are encouraging principals to involve health teachers, guidance counselors, school health coordinators, and school nurses in the distribution process – in whatever way makes sense locally.  Since young people spend the majority of their day in school, schools are critical sites for the distribution of these materials.  Your efforts could make the difference in whether or not young lives are saved.


The materials have been designed to provide information on important issues facing today’s teens, where to find helping resources, relevant state laws, and to publicize the statewide crisis hotline number to students.  Included in the upcoming mailing will be an updated version of the Teen Yellow Pages for your area, teen-designed posters and book covers.  The Teen Yellow Pages is an updated version of the booklet distributed two years ago - designed for your area by Ingraham, a mental health services agency in Portland.  This is a compact booklet that addresses teen issues and provides a list of local resources for help.  The posters and book covers are teen designed and developed by the People’s Regional Opportunities Program (PROP) in Portland with the cooperation of five peer helper groups that represent the voice of teens on a statewide basis.


As schools across the state continue to work with the Maine Learning Results to improve curriculum and student learning, it is important that they also work on characteristics of success in the school community.  The Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program includes strategies that: (1) encompass knowledge and skills training, (2) provide mental health services’ information to help prevent suicide, and (3) model community collaborative efforts which support the goals of the Guiding Principals of the Maine Learning Results.


The impact of a youth suicide is devastating to a community.  Using a combination of strategies, youth suicidal behavior can be decreased.  We encourage you to take the initiative to educate yourself further on the issue of suicide prevention, and to learn more about effective school-based suicide prevention.  Thank you for your interest and participation in this important endeavor.  If you want more information about the MYSPP, please contact any of the following individuals:


MYSPP Coordinator, Maine Department of Human Services, Cheryl DiCara

(207) 287-5362 or 1-800-698-3624


Maine Department of Education, Stephanie Swan

(207) 624-6697


Maine Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, Information Resource Center, Jo McCaslin

(207) 287-8900 or 1-800-499-0027