Making Educators Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention: ACT on FACTS
Training is available for free through a link on the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide's university website.
ACT on FACTS is an updated version of the school-based suicide awareness program “Making Educators Partners in Suicide Prevention”. Like its predecessor, ACT on FACTS is a two-hour online interactive training program, designed in a series of modules. It addresses the critical but limited responsibilities of educators in the process of identification and referral of potentially suicidal youth. It focuses on the practical realities and challenges inherent in the school setting through a variety of training formats that include lecture, question and answer with content experts, interactive exercises and role plays. In addition to its other content, the program highlights four categories of youth who may be at elevated risk for suicide: youth involved in bullying, LGBTQ youth, gifted youth, and students being reintegrated back into school after a suicide attempt. The training includes optional content that addresses suicide in elementary and middle schools. There is also an additional module that includes the stories of individual survivors of suicide loss as well as a high school that experienced an episode of contagion. The focus in telling these stories is to highlight the importance of emphasizing resilience and protective factors after a loss event.
The program is adapted from the educator component of LIFELINES: A School-based Program for Suicide Prevention initially developed in 1989 by John Kalafat and Maureen Underwood. It incorporates material from the previous Making Educators Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention training as well as current data about risk, warning signs, and populations at higher risk. The segment on LGBTQ youth was developed in partnership with The Trevor Project and the section on bullying was created in conjunction with the Olweus Bulling Prevention Program. Content was also developed with input from survivors of suicide loss and those with lived experience.
After training, participants should be able to:
- Define suicide prevention as a part of school culture by contextualizing it as a component of a “competent school community”
- Describe the critical but limited role of the educator in the prevention process
- Explain why specific categories of students may be at elevated risk
- Discuss strategies for dealing with at-risk students
Educator training is only one facet of effective school-based suicide prevention; additional critical components include the identification of on-site referral points (for example: school psychologists or counselors), the development of linkages to community mental health services, and the institution of crisis protocols, such as those developed by the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program.