Massachusetts Department of Public Health
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
- 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.
- Organized and facilitated several community forums for adults and youth, reaching hundreds.
- Minority mental health forums were held to discuss the mental health of Latino, Black, Hmong and LGBT communities in the area.
- 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
- Implementing SOS and Teen Screen in middle and high schools.
- 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
- 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.
- Held Post Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM) Training for community leaders to respond to a sudden death crisis situation.
- Creation, development and/or expansion of Regional Suicide Prevention Coalitions.
- Building partnerships with the community.
- Supporting schools that have and wish to create Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).
- Coordinating and supporting school and agency staff training on supporting LGBTQ youth.
- 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.