CDC Project

Notes from the Field: Maine School-Community Based Youth Suicide Prevention Intervention Project

This report was written by Project Coordinator Sue O'Halloran with significant contributions from the School Project Coordinators from the twelve Maine schools involved in the project. The four year project was led by the Maine Suicide Prevention Program in the Division of Family Health, Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS. The project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Injury Disability Outcomes and Programs from the fall of 2002 through October of 2006. We expect that it will be useful to other schools that are implementing a youth suicide prevention program. The report provides incredible stories and in-depth information from the perspective of the state level and school project coordinators. We feel that the project demonstrated a successful approach to the important public health problem of youth suicide. Report (Word* | also in PDF*)

Project Description and Scope:

The Maine Suicide Prevention Program (MSPP) conducted a four-year youth suicide prevention project with 12 Maine high schools. With grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Injury Disability Outcomes and Programs, this project provided local schools with funding, training and technical assistance to implement and evaluate an effective school-community based suicide prevention program. While many schools around the state have implemented parts of a suicide prevention program, the grant supported the implementation of a comprehensive program in the project schools. The project goal was to increase the readiness of local systems to effectively reduce suicide crisis, intervene in a crisis and manage the school environment following a suicide.

The CDC grant supported full implementation of the Lifelines Program, a comprehensive school-based program identified in the research literature as a promising strategy to prevent youth suicide. Six of the twelve schools also incorporated the Reconnecting Youth Curriculum (RY). RY is proven effective to increase academic achievement and school connectedness, reduce school dropout and risk behaviors associated with suicide as well as reducing suicide among high-risk youth.

Project Components:

  1. Development of school protocols or procedures for suicide prevention, intervention and postvention crisis planning, utilizing the Maine Suicide Prevention Program (MSPP) School Protocol Guidelines.
  2. Development of a written Memorandum of Agreement for services between the school and local crisis service providers.
  3. Education of the entire school community involving the following: a) Gatekeeper training for selected school staff and community members; b) “Training of Trainers” for some Gatekeepers to conduct school and community awareness education programs; c) Suicide prevention awareness education for all school personnel and some community members; d) Teacher training for health educators in Lifelines student lessons to incorporate within their comprehensive health education curriculum; e) Lifelines student suicide prevention lessons for all students taking health classes.
  4. Reconnecting Youth, a semester long curriculum for at risk students, is offered at six of the twelve participating schools.

Findings/Benefits Reported by Project Schools:

  • Positive staff reaction to training; higher awareness & increased confidence in ability to intervene in suicidal behavior,
  • Extension of suicide prevention training to staff in other district schools,
  • Improved staff communication,
  • Identifying more students at risk for suicide,
  • Enhanced, systematic, responses to students at risk,
  • More coordinated response to completed suicides. Staff are better able to manage any student death.
  • Improved relationship with crisis service providers,
  • Students in the CDC project schools had greater gains in knowledge, perceptions of school readiness, and appropriate responses to scenarios after the Lifelines Student Lessons when compared to students in other schools where data was collected previously.

MSPP Lifelines Evaluation Report (pdf)

For more information, contact Carrie Horne, Medical Care Development, (207) 622-5767 / 1-800-464-5767; or Maine Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator, Cheryl DiCara at 1-800-698-3624 or fill out our Request for Information Form.