Daring to Stop Suicide in Schools: AFSP’s Partnership with DARE

Aug. 6, 2019- When I first heard about the opportunity to make a presentation regarding suicide prevention at the 32nd Annual International D.A.R.E Training Conference in Phoenix I was instantly flooded by memories of my participation in the D.A.R.E Program as a kid. Implemented in schools throughout the United States, D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) teaches students good decision-making skills designed to help them lead safe and healthy lives and cope with high risk circumstances including drugs, alcohol, violence and bullying. As D.A.R.E worked to expand their programing recently, they recognized the importance of addressing mental health and suicide among youths and reached out to AFSP for guidance.

D.A.R.E presents More Than Sad is a collaboration between D.A.R.E and AFSP, based on AFSP’ More Than Sad: Teen Depression prevention education program for teens. This new module has been developed to be delivered by D.A.R.E’s school-based officers, who are law enforcement officers specially trained to deliver education programing in schools.

This adapted version of More Than Sad is a six-lesson curriculum designed to teach teens to recognize the signs of depression in themselves and others; address and remove the sense of shame some people associate with mental health; demystify the treatment process; and encourage students to talk to a trusted adult about mental health.

I was excited to have the opportunity to present D.A.R.E. presents More Than Sad directly to the D.A.R.E. officers who would be presenting it to students. In the course of discussing the program, many of them acknowledged the need for this program, sharing how suicide has impacted their schools and the need for suicide prevention education in their schools and communities. As the Director of Prevention Education at AFSP, I valued having the chance to connect with them and share, not only about this specific program, but all of AFSP’s programming and resources. I was also able to give them information on how they and the students and teachers they are in contact with can connect to their local AFSP chapter.

The need for further suicide prevention education in schools for young people is very real. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10-24 in 2017. According to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 31.5% of American high school students reported experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopeless, and 17.2% reported they have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. By working with D.A.R.E to present More Than Sad, we can help further spread potentially lifesaving education and resources to young people, and reinforce the understanding that their mental health is as real as their physical health: a lesson that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

To learn more about the More Than Sad program, click here.

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