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  • The Evidence Behind SOS Signs of Suicide

    Three clinical trials have been conducted on our SOS Signs of Suicide program. We have summaries and links to each.

What do we mean when we say that SOS Signs of Suicide is evidence-based?

We mean that SOS relies on scientifically-acquired results that demonstrate the program is achieving its stated goals. Multiple researchers have shown interest in evaluating SOS using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – the “gold standard” of research studies. Below you will find summaries of each of the three clinical trials that have been done to date on SOS along with links to the original peer-reviewed papers.

Evaluating the SOS suicide prevention program: A replication and extension

Results: This randomized controlled trial demonstrated that youth who received SOS student training were approximately 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the three months after the training compared to youth who hadn’t been through the SOS program. Exposure to the SOS curriculum resulted in greater knowledge of depression and suicide and more adaptive attitudes toward these problems.

Study Summary: This study is an extension of a clinical trial published in the American Journal of Public Health in March 2004 by Robert H. Aseltine Jr. and Robert DeMartino. This second article adds to their previous evaluation of SOS by including data from the second year of the trial. It sought to assess the short-term impact of the SOS program. Researchers worked with a sample of over 4,000 high school students divided into two groups: the treatment group, who received SOS student training, and the control group, who did not participate in suicide prevention education. Approximately three months after completing SOS training, students in both groups were asked to complete a short questionnaire.

Aseltine, Robert H. Jr, PhD and Robert DeMartino, MD. (2004). “An Outcome Evaluation of the SOS Suicide Prevention Program.” American Journal of Public Health. Vol 94, No 3, 446-51.

Aseltine, Robert H. Jr, Amy James, Elizabeth A. Schilling, and Jaime Glanovsky. (2007) “Evaluating the SOS suicide prevention program: a replication and extension.” BMC Public Health. 7: 161.

The SOS Suicide Prevention Program: Further Evidence of Efficacy and Effectiveness

Results: Students who received SOS training were approximately 64% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the three months after the training compared with students who hadn’t been through the SOS program.

Study Summary: The researchers behind this clinical trial sought to replicate results of prior studies on SOS and to further assess the program’s efficacy and effectiveness. The participants were more than 1,000 ninth-grade students divided into two groups: the treatment group, who received SOS student training, and the control group, who did not participate in suicide prevention education. Students in both groups completed a “pre-test” survey before the treatment group received SOS student training, and both groups completed a “post-test” survey three months after participating in SOS.

Schilling, Elizabeth A., Robert H. Aseltine Jr, and Amy James. (2016). “The SOS Suicide Prevention Program: Further Evidence of Efficacy and Effectiveness.” Prevention Science. 17(2): 157-166.

"Signs of Suicide" Shows Promise as a Middle School Suicide Prevention Program

Results: Participation in the SOS program was associated with increases in knowledge of suicide and depression. Additionally, students who reported suicidal ideation in the pre-test before receiving SOS training were 96% less likely to report suicidal behaviors (ideation, planning, and/or attempts) at the post-test after participating in the SOS program than students with pre-test ideation in the control group.

Study Summary: This study evaluated the SOS Signs of Suicide middle school program specifically. Researchers worked with a sample of approximately 400 fifth-eighth graders divided into two groups: the treatment group, who received SOS student training, and the control group, who did not participate in suicide prevention education. Students in both groups completed a pre-test survey before the treatment group received SOS student training, and both groups completed a post-test survey three months later.

Schilling, Elizabeth A., PhD, Martha Lawless, BA, Laurel Buchanan, MA, and Robert H. Aseltine Jr, PhD. (2014). “‘Signs of Suicide’ Shows Promise as a Middle School Suicide Prevention Program.” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 44(6): 653-67.

Interested in Learning More About the MindWise SOS Program?

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