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Researchers will test suicide prevention program in high schools
Date:9/7/2010

he culture of their schools and peer groups and determine whether this intervention leads to a decrease in suicide attempts," Wyman said.

The New York State Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Initiatives already has backed the program and the study.

"This office is proud to help support the expansion of the evidence-based Sources of Strength project," said Melanie Puorto, director of the Suicide Prevention Initiatives. "This school-based program promotes resiliency and helps increase positive help-seeking behaviors. This is an important effort to help prevent youth suicide."

Sources of Strength was developed in the late 1990s by Mark LoMurray with tribal and rural suicide prevention workers in North Dakota. Youth opinion leaders from diverse social cliques, including at-risk adolescents, are trained to change the typical beliefs and behaviors of their peers by conducting well-defined messaging activities with adult mentoring. The purpose is to modify the beliefs propagated through communication within peer groups and to alter perceptions of what is typical behavior for handling emotional crises and of the social consequences for positive coping behaviors.

Peer leaders encourage friends to name and engage ''trusted adults'' to increase youthadult communication ties. They also reinforce the idea that friends should ask adults for help for suicidal friends, thereby reducing implicit suicide acceptability and stigma for seeking help. Peer leaders develop videos and other messages showing how positive coping strategies or "sources of strength" can help in getting through tough times and challenging emotions. Changing these factors is designed to connect suicidal youths with capable adults and to reduce the likelihood that lower risk youths will develop behavior that includes suicidal thinking.

In a study of the Sources of Strength program in 18 schools in Georgia, New York and North Dakota that was published in July in
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Contact: Michael Wentzel
Michael_Wentzel@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-1309
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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