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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time devoted to mobilizing global action for suicide prevention through awareness-building and research efforts. Held annually on September 10th, World Suicide Prevention Day serves as a reminder of the lives lost to suicide each year and acts as a motivating force to encourage wide-spread prevention efforts.

The Centers for Disease Control lists suicide as the second leading cause of death among youth aged 11-18. According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 17.7% of students in grades 9-12 seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, and 14.6% made a plan. With such a high number of youth contemplating suicide, school is an ideal place to deliver suicide prevention programming. Schools can create a safe environment to teach students the signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal thinking, while also training faculty and staff to respond to concerns. This year, Screening for Mental Health is marking the 15th Anniversary of the SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program as part of National Suicide Prevention Week.

The SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program teaches youth that suicide is not a normal response to stress, but rather a preventable tragedy that can occur as a result of untreated depression. The programs use a simple and easy to remember acronym, ACT® (Acknowledge, Care, Tell), to teach students action steps to take if they encounter a situation that requires help from a trusted adult. Demonstrating a 64% reduction in self-reported suicide attempts among youth, SOS is unique as it incorporates two prominent suicide prevention strategies into a single program: the educational curriculum that raises awareness about suicide and depression, and a brief screening for depression.

While school is an ideal place to teach suicide prevention to youth, everyone can benefit from learning the warning signs of suicide and how to ACT. StopaSuicide.orgteaches individuals the signs and symptoms to look out for, dispels common myths about suicide, and includes tips on how to have a constructive conversation with a friend or loved one if you are concerned. Visit StopaSuicide.org today and learn the important part we can all play in suicide prevention.

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