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Influence of coping strategies on the efficacy of YAM (Youth Aware of Mental Health): a universal school-based suicide preventive program

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The school-based mental health promotion and suicide prevention universal program Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) significantly reduces incident suicide attempts and severe suicidal ideation. This paper aims at elucidating psychological mechanisms underlying YAM’s efficacy. Our hypothesis is that YAM operates through interactions with coping strategies (CS) on the reduction of suicidal ideation (SI). In the Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe (SEYLE) study, five coping strategies were assessed at baseline (T0) and 12-month follow-up (T12): “learning”, “help-seeking”, “arts”, “sports” and “fight”. We analyzed interactions between the YAM intervention, coping strategies and SI in the YAM group (N = 1693) and the minimal intervention group (N = 1909), after excluding prevalent cases with SI and previous suicide attempts from our total sample (N = 5654). General Linear Mixed Model regressions were performed. The present study confirms that coping strategies play an influential role on suicidal ideation. Our results showed that YAM acts whatever the prevailing coping strategies used. It is particularly efficient for pupils insufficiently using adaptive coping strategies such as LEARN and HELP-SEEKING or using maladaptive coping strategies, such as ARTS and FIGHT. The socialization induced by the YAM intervention seems to be a strong component of its efficiency.

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The SEYLE project is supported through Coordination Theme 1 (Health) of the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7), Grant agreement HEALTH-F2-2009-22309. The authors were independent of the funders in all aspects of study design, data analysis, and writing of this manuscript. The Project Leader and Coordinator of the SEYLE project is Professor in Psychiatry and Suicidology Danuta Wasserman, Karolinska Institute (KI), Head of the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill- Health and Suicide (NASP), at KI, Stockholm, Sweden. Other members of the Executive Committee are Professor Marco Sarchiapone, Department of Health Sciences, University of Molise, Campobasso, Italy; Deputy Director Vladimir Carli, National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP), Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; Professor Christina W. Hoven and Anthropologist Camilla Wasserman, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA. The SEYLE Consortium comprises centres in 12 European countries. Site leaders for each respective centre and country are: Danuta Wasserman (NASP, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, Coordinating Centre), Christian Haring (University for Medical Information Technology, Austria), Airi Varnik (Estonian Swedish Mental Health & Suicidology Institute, Estonia), Jean-Pierre Kahn (Université de Lorraine, France), Romuald Brunner (University of Heidelberg, Germany), Judit Balazs (Vadaskert Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital, Hungary), Paul Corcoran (National Suicide Research Foundation, Ireland), Alan Apter (Schneider Children’s Medical Centre of Israel, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel), Marco Sarchiapone (University of Molise, Italy), Doina Cosman (Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Romania), Vita Postuvan (University of Primorska, Slovenia) and Julio Bobes (University of Oviedo, Spain). Support for “Ethical Issues in Research with Minors and other Vulnerable Groups” was obtained by a grant from the Botnar Foundation, Basel, for Professor of Ethics, Dr. Stella Reiter-Theil, Psychiatric Clinic at Basel University, who served as the independent ethical consultant to the SEYLE project.

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Correspondence to Jean-Pierre Kahn.

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Kahn, J., Cohen, R.F., Tubiana, A. et al. Influence of coping strategies on the efficacy of YAM (Youth Aware of Mental Health): a universal school-based suicide preventive program. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-020-01476-w

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  • YAM
  • Universal programme
  • Coping strategies
  • Suicide
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Adolescents
  • Mechanisms
  • Suicide prevention
  • Mental health promotion