GLS Program Impact on Suicide Attempts

December 18, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

An analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that counties in which Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Youth Suicide Prevention Program grants (GLS programs) were implemented “had significantly lower suicide attempt rates among the population aged 16 to 23 years in the year following implementation of the GLS program than did similar counties that did not implement GLS program activities.” Counties with GLS programs were found to have 4.9 fewer attempts per 1000 youth between the ages of 16 to 23 in the year following program implementation. Gatekeeper training was used as a benchmark indicating local GLS implementation. There was no similar decrease in suicide attempts among people older than 23 (i.e. not in the GLS target audience), which was taken as evidence that the decline in suicides resulted from GLS program activities. This research suggests that GLS programs may have prevented more than 79,000 suicide attempts between 2008 and 2011.

The programs did not sustain this level of effectiveness after one year. The authors suggested that “adherence and focus on comprehensive suicide prevention activities may fade over time” and that “effectively preventing suicides requires continued implementation of program activities.”

This summary is from: Garraza, L. G., Walrath, C., Goldston, D., Reid, H., & McKeon, R. (2015). Effect of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Suicide Prevention Program on suicide attempts among youths. JAMA Psychiatry, 72(11), 1143-1149.

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The findings of this research were similar to those of a previously published analysis, which showed that counties with GLS programs had significantly lower suicide rates for young people in the 10-24 year age group than similar counties without a GLS program. A summary of this research was published in the May 1, 2015 Weekly Spark.