4 Wins from Delivering SOS During the Pandemic
by Nicole Scherr
For many educators, delivering our evidence-based SOS Signs of Suicide program outside a physical classroom may seem like a daunting task. If you’re wondering if it’s feasible for your school or district, we’re here to tell you that many schools have already rolled out SOS during the pandemic with great success – and with our new updated tools for virtual or hybrid delivery, it’s easier than you might think.
Don’t just take our word for it: today we’re sharing real stories and successes from facilitators across the country who taught SOS in virtual and hybrid classrooms this fall to encourage you and share their best practice tips.
Win 1: Interaction from both students & parents
When San Diego Youth Services delivered SOS this fall, they wondered if students would interact in a virtual class as much as they would inside a physical classroom. They were surprised to find that many students felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings through virtual chat. They also found that more parents reached out and engaged on the issue of suicide prevention than in years past to support their students’ mental health during the pandemic.
Win 2: Smooth virtual rollout with easy-to-use materials
How easy is it to roll out the SOS curriculum virtually? Many schools reported a very low occurrence of technical issues while delivering the material, with one educator saying the updated materials and video clips “couldn’t have been easier” to use. Their best practice tips? Plan practice sessions with fellow facilitators and take your time teaching the material to ensure a seamless delivery.
Win 3: Students applying ACT
One school social worker reported that students were remembering and applying the principles of ACT (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) even weeks after the virtual SOS class period, saying that SOS is building lifelong skills in recognizing signs of suicidal thinking and depression in themselves and others. Students were also applying the principles to start conversations with trusted adults around other issues, such as vaping or social media use.
Win 4: “It just works.”
The most resounding comment we’ve heard from facilitators is by far our favorite: this program just works. Students are engaging with the material, remembering it, and using it to understand and share information surrounding youth suicide prevention.
If you’re still trying to decide whether to roll out a suicide prevention program this year, take the advice of one educator we heard from: “Gather your team, communicate with each other and go for it. This program has saved many lives every year. It is worth it!”