Skip to Content

Sources of Strength

Setting 
Schools & Communities
Type of Program 
Education & Training
2001 NSSP Goals Addressed 
3.4, 6.5, 8.5
Program Description 

Sources of Strength is a comprehensive wellness program that uses the combined power of peer and caring adult
relationships to improve social norms, enhance coping and social support, and increase help-seeking behaviors in
order to reduce conditions that give rise to suicide and other risk-taking behaviors. Trained teams of adult
advisors and a diverse group of peer leaders attempt to impact their local teen and young adult cultures through
conversations within their friendship groups and by delivering a series of “Hope, Help, and Strength” messages
via classroom presentations, public service announcements, posters, videos, the internet, and text messaging.
The program is strength-based and promotes eight critical protective factors that are linked to overall
psychological wellness and reduced suicide risk. The program can be implemented in schools or colleges, as well
as in faith, cultural, and community-based settings.

Program implementation follows six phases: (1) engage key local stakeholders, (2) identify and train a small team
of adult advisors that will mentor the peer leader team, (3) review and update suicide intervention protocol for the
school or agency, (4) train school staff or other adult staff on Sources of Strength core elements, (5) recruit and
train a team of diverse peer leaders with local adult advisors, and (6) the peer team engages in a two- to four-month
team action step process. Initial peer training is a three- to four-hour, highly interactive strength-focused
process that also covers warning signs, codes of silence and supports/resources in the local school or
community.

The Sources of Strength curriculum was developed by Mark LoMurray in 1998 and has been used extensively in
tribal/rural areas of North Dakota. The project has expanded into many states and has been evaluated with urban,
African American and Hispanic/Latino students as well. In 2005, the project received the national Public Health
Practice Award from the American Public Health Association.

Objectives 

Sources of Strength peer leaders and their social networks should have:

  1. Increased knowledge of suicide prevention and how to help at-risk peers.
  2. Decreased “codes of silence” that may inhibit help-seeking behavior.
  3. Increased connectedness between at-risk youths and caring adults.
Implementation Essentials 
  • Prior to training the peer team, crisis management protocols found in the Sources of Strength Start-up Guide should be fully implemented and local adult advisors should be identified and trained.
Contact Information 

Mark LoMurray, Director
Sources of Strength
15506 Sundown Drive
Bismarck, ND 58503
Voice: (701) 471-7186
Email: marklomurray@gmail.com
Website: http://sourcesofstrength.org/

Costs 

Approximate cost is $5,000 per school plus trainer travel and
accommodations. Discounts and scholarships are available
depending on the number of sponsoring schools and other
factors. Ongoing technical support is part of this program.
Contact the Sources of Strength project at (701) 471-7186 for
more information.

First Posted 
Aug 24 2009

*The content of practices listed in Section III (Adherence to Standards) of the SPRC/AFSP Best Practices Registry address specific goals of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and have been reviewed by a panel of three suicide prevention experts and found to meet standards of accuracy, safety, and programmatic guidelines. Practices were not reviewed for evidence of effectiveness. Additional information about the Best Practices Registry can be found at www.sprc.org.

The Best Practices Registry is supported by a grant (1 U79 SM059945) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). No official endorsement by SAMHSA or DHHS for the information in this document is intended or should be inferred.