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What's New at Youth Suicide Prevention Program

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YSPP & Partners Launch Suicide Awareness Campaign and New Tool for Youth

Thanks to funding from SAMHSA, YSPP, The Washington State Department of Health, Pacific County Public Health & Human Services, Grays Harbor County Public Health & Services Department, and Snohomish Health District worked with social marketing expert Nancy Lee and social marketing firm C+C to design a suicide prevention awareness campaign aimed specifically at youth.

“Sadly, although we’ve seen greater awareness and action in the areas where YSPP works, the overall stats on youth suicide in our state have not changed much,” says Vicki Wagner, Executive Director of YSPP. “We wanted to find out what was missing here, and what teens really need to start preventing suicide. What we found out is that there’s a lot of discomfort and fear for them around starting the conversation.”

“Teens know when their friend is in trouble, and they definitely want to help. But when it comes to suicide, they just don’t know how to start that conversation,” Vicki Wagner says. “Through digital-media and school-based outreach activities, we’ll address that fear, and give teens the tools to know what to do.”

Since teens interact with each other online and at school, outreach will occur through digital-media and school based activities. The ads will be a series of static and animated text messages between friends—one who is thinking about suicide, and the other who is a friend who wants to help. The ad then directs teens to a website where they can learn more about the warning signs and how to help.

“Kids are scared, especially when they see a friend acting in an alarming way. We need to show them what to do,” Vicki Wagner says.

The marketing campaign is currently happening in Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Snohomish Counties, areas where there aren’t a lot of youth suicide prevention resources available. At the end of October, we will access the campaign’s success, refine it, and hopefully take it state wide.

Though the ads are only “airing” to teens, you can help spread the message by sharing the website with your network and get this tool out to as many youths, educators, and parents as possible. Together, we can support our youth, and prevent suicide.

Washington State releases new suicide prevention plan.

The new Washington State Suicide Prevention Plan is now available.

Published by the Washington State Department of Health, the new plan is the work of the State Suicide Prevention Plan Steering Committee, which included YSPP's Executive Director, Vicki Wagner; former YSPP Training Director Karyn Brownson; and many other suicide prevention experts from around the state.

The new plan is guided by the four Strategic Directions outlined in the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, and promotes an "upstream" approach in preventing suicide.

One of those upstream approaches is creating more connected communities, the guiding principle behind our "Networks for Life" training.

"Connectedness reduces social isolation, a risk factor for suicide. Socially connected people have more opportunities to ask for or get help during a crisis, and families’ connectedness to community resources protects against suicide risk," the plan states.

Washington's suicide rate, including youth suicides, is consistently higher than the national average, with six counties having rates higher than the state average. In addition to these six counties with above average suicide rates, nine counties have self-injury rates that are significantly higher than the state average.

Many of our youth are in geographically isolated communities, where support for their experiences and access to behavorial health resources may be limited.

According to The London School of Economics, behavioral health interventions and suicide prevention activities, such as early diagnosis and treatment of depression, have a significant return on investment, and, in the long run, suicide prevention activities improve community wellness and saves lives.

Among the plan's recommendations for suicide prevention is expanding peer-to-peer suicide support, education, and prevention programs; and improving the emotional health literacy of education staff members and youth development professionals so that they may identify suicidal behavior earlier, and before it's too late.

Download the plan here.


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