Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Massachusetts Youth Suicide Prevention Project
Garrett Lee Smith State

The Massachusetts Youth Suicide Prevention Project is working to reduce the rate of suicide mortality and morbidity among young people ages 10-24 in three Community Health Network Areas (CHNAs) of the state identified as having youth suicide rates or rates of non-fatal self-inflicted injury higher than those in the state and nation. Each of the three CHNAs formed a design team/steering committee to take the lead in strategic planning. Goals were organized around the following five prevention areas: Community Outreach and Awareness, Early Identification and Referral, Infrastructure Development, Policy and Protocol Development, and Prevention Services.

Community Outreach and Awareness

  1. Implemented Photovoice project with LGBTQ youth to assess the needs of youth and engage community leaders in a dialogue about the mental health needs of youth.
  2. Organized and facilitated several community forums for adults and youth, reaching hundreds.
  3. Minority mental health forums were held to discuss the mental health of Latino, Black, Hmong and LGBT communities in the area.
  4. Materials were developed by youth, including wallet resource cards, frisbees, water bottles and stress balls with crisis phone numbers, have been widely distributed.

Early Identification and Referral

  1. Implementing SOS and Teen Screen in middle and high schools.
  2. Providing QPR and/or awareness trainings for providers and priority populations, including clergy, EMTs, LGBTQ youth and organizations, middle school, high school and college staff, and youth-serving agencies.

Policy and Protocol Development

  1. Providing consultation/training to school staff in implementing protocols and procedures for responding to youth suicidal behavior and re-entry protocols following a suicide attempt.
  2. Held Post Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM) Training for community leaders to respond to a sudden death crisis situation.

Infrastructure Development

  1. Creation, development and/or expansion of Regional Suicide Prevention Coalitions.
  2. Building partnerships with the community.
  3. Supporting schools that have and wish to create Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).
  4. Coordinating and supporting school and agency staff training on supporting LGBTQ youth.

Postvention Services

  • Trained survivors to facilitate local suicide specific bereavement groups, and implemented and currently holding several bereavement groups for survivors of suicide.
  • Hosted several National Survivors of Suicide Day events.