Academic journal article Education

Do Increasing Adolescent Suicide Rates Result in Increasing Prevention/postvention Programs in Ohio Schools?: A Survey

Academic journal article Education

Do Increasing Adolescent Suicide Rates Result in Increasing Prevention/postvention Programs in Ohio Schools?: A Survey

Article excerpt

Adolescent suicide continues to be a major cause of death of our youth. The National Center for Health Statistics (1996) has found suicide to be the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds, behind only accidents and homicide and the tenth leading cause of death in children under the age of fifteen (Ellis & Lane, 1995). The simple truth is that the actual rates may be as much as five times higher than these reported rates (Poland, 1989).

In 1990, it was estimated that 3.6 million young people consider suicide (Kirk, 1993) and two to ten percent of adolescents actually attempt each year (Brent, 1995). In recent years, the rate of successful suicide among adolescents has reached epidemic proportions (Kiselica, 1995) and these rates are still increasing (White, 1989; Alcohol, 1994). The mortality rate for American youth ages 5-24 in 1994 was higher than it was in 1970 (Kalafat, 1990). In 1994 the rate for adolescents ages 1524 had the second greatest increase from the 1990 rates (.6 per 100,000). Only the 85+ age group had a higher increase (.8 per 100,000). The only other age group showing a rate increase in suicide over time were the very young (5-14) which increased by .1 per 100,000 (NCHS, 1996).

Even with these growing rates of suicide among our youth, prevention programs that are available have often taken a limited focus. (Berman and Jobes, 1995). Suicide is a topic that parents and educators are often afraid of and/or unwilling to talk about. Avoidance, denial, and ignorance characterize America's orientation toward suicide. If educators are to help adolescents develop the knowledge, skills, and values to make more positive choices in dealing with this life-threatening problem, schools must lead in the development of programs that address the specific needs of adolescents (Davis & Sandoval, 1991; Kalafat & Elias, 1994; Malley, Kush, and Bogo, 1994; Ryerson, 1990).

Siehl (1990) went even further by indicating that there is a high probability that every school counselor during his or her career will have a student that will attempt or commit suicide. Much of the current information about adolescent suicide stresses the importance of not only all school personnel (Kiselica, 1995; Sandoval, London, & Rey, 1994), but also family (Shagle and Barber, 1995; Brent and Perper, 1995), and community being actively involved in prevention programs. A number of prevention programs have been developed over the years (O'Carroll, Potter, & Mercy, 1996), but if they are to succeed, there must be integrated, collective synergism operating among school, community mental health agencies, other social and governmental agencies, medical and health organizations and families.

To what extent are suicide prevention programs operating in Ohio schools? School systems and communities cannot develop needs-based suicide education, prevention, and intervention programs, improve existing programs, assess the effectiveness of collaborative efforts, or anticipate future needs without an adequate knowledge base. In a 1992 study, Siehl found that the occurrence of suicide prevention programs in Ohio schools was minimal, even though counselors and principals indicated that they believed that schools should have a program. One objective of this study is to identify the extent to which prevention programs are currently available in schools and to discover whether Ohio schools have increased the level of suicide prevention/postvention programs available to students and staff over the last few years. Only then can it be possible to examine possible stumbling blocks to providing the education and skills necessary for reducing the numbers of youth who kill themselves each year.

Purpose And Predictions

This study is part of a larger study which proposed to establish a knowledge base in the area of suicide prevention and intervention and to test the knowledge framework resulting from the study in order to generate new research in the area of suicide prevention and intervention. …

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