Lifelines Trilogy is a 3 Day Comprehensive Suicide Awareness and Responsiveness Program for Years 5-6; Years 7-10 and Years 11-12. The only one of its kind in Australia

Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australians for ages between 15 and 44.

A Canadian study by Dr. Ian Colman, found that 12 to 13 year olds exposed to suicide were five times more likely to be thinking about suicide or to have attempted themselves. He stated “If you’ve got 1,000 students at a school and one student dies of suicide, potentially 1000 kids could be affected by that death”.

Ms Jill Fisher (founder of the 24 hour National Standby Response Service), said “While there’s been among most age groups, decreases in suicide, that age group between five and 14 was one of the few age groups that was increasing”

In order to address this important issue, Hazelden offers Lifelines Comprehensive 3 Day Suicide Awareness and Responsiveness Program for Teens. This is a whole-school program is made up of three unique components: Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention. This trilogy of programs is the only existing model of its kind available for teens.

The complete Lifelines Trilogy is based on over 20 years of suicide-in-youth research that indicates an informed community can help to prevent vulnerable teens from ending their lives.

LIFELINE’S NATIONAL TRAINING MODEL

What Is Lifelines?

Lifelines: A Suicide Prevention Program is a comprehensive suicide prevention program that targets the entire school community, providing suicide awareness material for administrators, faculty and staff, parents, and students. It is an outgrowth of programs initially developed by the authors in the 1980s in response to requests from schools for help in dealing with an increase in suicidal behaviour among students. While Lifelines provides basic information about youth suicide, it is primarily directed at helping everyone in the school community recognize when a student is at potential risk of suicide and understand how and where to access help.

 The objectives of Lifelines are to increase the likelihood that:

  • Members of the school community can more readily identify potentially suicidal adolescents, know how to initially respond to them, and know how to rapidly obtain help for them
  • Troubled adolescents are aware of and have immediate access to helping resources and seek such help as an alternative to suicidal actions

Is Lifelines a Research-based Program?

Lifelines is a research-based program. It has been identified as a promising program by the Suicide Prevention Resource Centre (SPRC) and is included in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). One of the first school-based suicide prevention programs in the USA, it has been adapted and changed to reflect both program evaluation and increases in knowledge about youth attitudes toward seeking help.

Lifelines content is grounded in several areas of research related to adolescent suicide prevention.

It reflects research that has determined that most suicidal youths confide their concerns more often to peers than to adults, and that some adolescents, particularly males, do not respond to troubled peers in empathic or helpful ways. It also addresses the fact that as few as 25% of peer confidants tell an adult about a troubled or suicidal peer, and that school-based adults are often adolescents’ last choice as confidants for personal concerns.

What Are the Lifelines Program Components?

Lifelines consists of four components that are considered essential to a comprehensive school-based approach to adolescent suicide prevention. These components are (1) administrative readiness consultation, (2) training for school faculty and staff, (3) parent workshop, and (4) student curriculum. Handouts and additional resources on the CD-ROM supplement these components.

Administrative Readiness Consultation

This component outlines the school’s prepared and planned response to suicide prevention.Setting policies and procedures demonstrates administrative commitment and support for the school’s suicide prevention activities, and provides the guidelines for crisis response to students at risk for suicide or in the event of a death by suicide. 

Training for School Faculty and Staff

Generally designed as an in-service workshop, this component provides the basic information about adolescent suicide that has the most practical implications for school personnel. This presentation includes two film clips, one on suicide risk and warning signs and the other on practicing the warm hand-off. It outlines the critical but limited role of faculty and staff in identifying and responding to suicidal behaviour, and identifies in-school referral resources. The role of faculty and staff in suicide prevention is described in this presentation using three goals:

1) Learning the warning signs of suicide

2) Identifying at-risk students

3) Referring at-risk students to appropriate resources

Parent Workshop

This presentation for parents reviews basic information about adolescent suicide and provides an overview of the school’s response program, as well as brief guidelines for parental response to suicidal behaviour. Resources for additional information on suicide and community support services are also provided.

Student Curriculum

This component cannot be implemented until the first three components have been completed. It would be inappropriate to train students to identify and refer potentially at-risk peers if the adults in the school or at home are unprepared to respond to these referrals.

Implementing Lifelines Trilogy is a proactive approach to addressing suicide prevention with students, staff and parents. This 2018 revised edition uses updated language to reflect today’s best practices and youth culture, and now also covers years 5-6 and 11-12, in addition to years 7-10. Prevention now includes video interviews with recent high school graduates in a variety of educational and career paths. Their experiences frame topics in the near future for meaningful responses from Lifelines Prevention participants. We’ve also added two new video segments, Suicide Risk and Warning Signs, and Practising the Warm Handoff, in which Lifelines author Maureen Underwood personally coaches adults on vital skills in suicide prevention. Training materials are included for all school staff – teaching and non teaching, that provide accurate and practical information on identifying and referring students who might be at risk for suicide.

Why Should Schools Address the Issue of Teen Suicide?

For many students, suicide is not something that happens to other people—they are extremely familiar with its unfortunate reality, even in middle school.

 So, how prevalent is teen suicide? Consider the following national statistics:

  • In Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for fifteen to twenty-four year-olds, following accidents and homicides.
  • One in six high school students has thoughts about suicide.
  • 9% of high school students have made a suicide plan in the past twelve months.
  • One in eleven high school students has made an attempt in the past twelve months.
  • The suicide attempt rate has increased most dramatically for ten- to fourteen-year-olds.
  • Of school psychologists surveyed, 86% have counselled a student who has threatened or attempted suicide.
  • Of those psychologists, 62% have had a student make a nonfatal attempt at school.
  • Of those psychologists, 35% have had a student in their school die by suicide, and more than half of them reported more than one death.

These troubling statistics tell us that at any given time, over 14.5% of our high school students are having thoughts about suicide and about 7% have actually made a suicide attempt in the last twelve months. While we may not know exactly who they are, these students are sitting in our classrooms. And although there may be a lot about suicide that we don’t understand, what we can say for sure is that students who are thinking about dying are not concentrating on academic studies.

As stated by the Carnegie Task Force on Education, “School systems are not responsible for meeting every need of their students, but when the need directly affects learning, the school must meet the challenge.” By addressing teen suicide in a focused but comprehensive way, a school system can meet this challenge without overstepping its boundaries and becoming a mental health clinic. It can stand as a resource to potentially at-risk students by letting them know that the entire school community takes the problem of suicide seriously and has committed staff time and resources to addressing suicidal behaviour.

Can Talking about Suicide in a School Cause More Suicides?

Absolutely not! There are four main arguments in response to the myth that talking with kids about suicide will “plant” the idea:

  • Students are already well aware of suicide from their experience with suicidal peers and the media.
  • In the authors’ thirty years of hotline experience and twenty years of school-based suicide prevention programming, there has never been a case of planting the idea. The facts in regard to stimulation of suicidal behaviour are best summarized by the following quotes from the Centres’ for Disease Control and Prevention: “There is no evidence of increased suicidal ideation or behaviour among program participants” and “Furthermore, numerous research and intervention efforts have been completed without any reports of harm.”

This 3 day workshop can be held for your staff at your school, or you can send staff to a scheduled workshop by clicking the ‘Attend a training’ button below. All enquiries or expression of interest can be directed to our senior trainer, Sandra Willie by email or telephone: (07)3117 2455 or email: sandra@suicideprograms.org.au

Footnotes:

  • American Association of Suicidology, 2008 (data gathered in 2005). Check suicidology.org for updated statistics.
  • Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007).
  • Ernest L. Boyer, The Basic School: A Community for Learning (Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1995).
  • See J. Kalafat and M. Elias, “Adolescents’ Experience with and Response to Suicidal Peers, “Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour (1992): 315–21.
  • See Youth Suicide Prevention Programs: A Resource Guide (Atlanta: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 1992),
  • See L. Potter, K. E. Powell, and S. P. Kacher, “Suicide Prevention from a Mental Health Perspective,” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour 25 (1995): 87.