Program: Teen depression, suicide drops

Aug. 13, 2011 at 1:34 AM
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CINCINNATI, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A suicide prevention program has significantly helped teens overcome depression and thoughts of suicide, U.S. researchers say.

Cathy Strunk, a registered nurse and suicide prevention expert at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, developed Surviving the Teens, a curriculum that focuses on educating students about the warning signs of suicide in either themselves or friends, and how they can get help if they or their friends have suicidal feelings.

Strunk taught the Surviving the Teens curriculum to more than 6,000 high school students in three Ohio countries during the 2008-2009 school year. More than 900 were surveyed before the program and after completing the program and more than 400 were surveyed three months later.

Among the findings, students who reported:

-- Considering suicide dropped 65 percent, from 4.2 percent of students to 1.5 percent.

-- Planning to attempt suicide dropped 48 percent, from 9.9 percent to 5.2 percent.

-- Attempted suicide dropped 67 percent, from 5.2 percent to 1.7 percent.

-- Feeling sad and hopeless decreased 26 percent, from 22.6 percent of students to 16.8 percent.

"The overwhelming majority of students felt Surviving the Teens helped them to learn suicide warning signs, suicide and depression risk factors, how to cope with stress, steps to take if they or a friend felt suicidal, and how to talk to their parents and friends," Strunk says in a statement.

The findings are published online ahead of the print September edition of the Journal of School Health.

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