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The SOS Suicide Prevention Program: Further Evidence of Efficacy and Effectiveness

Abstract

This study replicated and extended previous evaluations of the Signs of Suicide (SOS) prevention program in a high school population using a more rigorous pre-test post-test randomized control design than used in previous SOS evaluations in high schools (Aseltine and DeMartino 2004; Aseltine et al. 2007). SOS was presented to an ethnically diverse group of ninth grade students in technical high schools in Connecticut. After controlling for the pre-test reports of suicide behaviors, exposure to the SOS program was associated with significantly fewer self-reported suicide attempts in the 3 months following the program. Ninth grade students in the intervention group were approximately 64 % less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past 3 months compared with students in the control group. Similarly, exposure to the SOS program resulted in greater knowledge of depression and suicide and more favorable attitudes toward (1) intervening with friends who may be exhibiting signs of suicidal intent and (2) getting help for themselves if they were depressed or suicidal. In addition, high-risk SOS participants, defined as those with a lifetime history of suicide attempt, were significantly less likely to report planning a suicide in the 3 months following the program compared to lower-risk participants. Differential attrition is the most serious limitation of the study; participants in the intervention group who reported a suicide attempt in the previous 3 months at baseline were more likely to be missing at post-test than their counterparts in the control group.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth A. Schilling.

Additional information

A portion of the results in this manuscript were previously presented at the 2010 American Association of Suicidality Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, and the State and Tribal Suicide Prevention Grantees Meeting, March 15–18, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This study was supported by a Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Grant. We thank Andrea Igar Duarte, William Turek, Bill Mecca, Aaron Igdalsky, and the State Department of Education and participating high schools for their help with data collection and research support.

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Schilling, E.A., Aseltine, R.H. & James, A. The SOS Suicide Prevention Program: Further Evidence of Efficacy and Effectiveness. Prev Sci 17, 157–166 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-015-0594-3

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Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Suicide
  • Prevention
  • Evaluation
  • Schools