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Hope Saves Lives: Education for After a Suicide Attempt is a proposed 60-90 minute educational program to be developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). This program expands on our Voices of Hope video series. The goals of this program are to provide information about suicide, attempts, and risk/protective factors, to those in the community who are affected by suicide and to reduce the stigma that currently impacts those who have experienced a suicide attempt and their family members. We also hope it will help to promote dialogue within families and communities regarding the needs of those who struggle with suicide and how best to support them. The primary audience for this program is people who have lived experience of suicide (either struggled or made an attempt) and their families/support network, as well as general community members who want to learn more about how to support others after a suicide attempt. It will be delivered in a face-to-face and/or webinar format by trained AFSP community volunteers and will be comprised of PowerPoint slides with talking points, film clips and discussion activities, a facilitator’s guide for those delivering the program and a participant feedback form.
While there are many programs that provide suicide prevention education, there are very few programs that are geared toward helping those with lived experience and their families navigate the complex time following a suicide attempt. In 2015, 1.4 million adults aged 18 or older attempted suicide and 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older reported having serious thoughts about trying to kill themselves (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). Those individuals will return to families, communities, and workplaces where myths about suicide inappropriately influence how people support them. Unfortunately, individuals who have attempted suicide are at a higher risk of suicide than those who have never attempted suicide and support from those around them can be a critically important part of their recovery and treatment. This program exhibits a new way to approach suicide prevention: to find ways to promote dialogue about suicide with goal of ultimately reducing suicide risk.
We hope that by implementing this program, we will be able to provide this training to others, including other community organizations, on how best to support those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide and/or have made a suicide attempt that are among them. By implementing this program in our 85 chapters in 50 states, we will provide leadership for other organizations on how to have these difficult conversations and support those who are struggling. The program will be disseminated through our chapter network to reach local communities across the United States. We have used a similar model with our Talk Saves Lives program and it has been successful in reaching thousands. AFSP suicide prevention experts will take the lead on program design and will work with a group of reviewers to include persons with lived experience of suicide, those who have attempted suicide and their families and friends.
AFSP has access to both content experts and persons with lived experience for program development and sustainability. Program delivery will involve providing training to volunteer trainers via the delivery of webinars, technical support and the development of step-by-step guides. The program will be piloted by 4-6 AFSP chapter pilot sites and their feedback will be incorporated into final versions of the program and accompanying materials. These will ultimately be disseminated to 85 AFSP chapters in 50 U.S. states. In addition, AFSP national education staff will provide ongoing technical support to chapter trainers for program delivery. Any person that is interesting in delivering the program can do so by becoming an AFSP chapter volunteer, and any organization interested in hosting a program can contact their local chapter. This model has proven effective for delivery and sustainability of our other AFSP education programs.
Other institutions and organizations can attend the training and invite AFSP trainers to come to their organization to present the program. We hope by making this program widely available for others to attend, attendees can take the knowledge back to their organizations to spur new conversations on how best to help those with lived experience of suicide within their groups. We hope that attendees will take the information (including brochures and web-based resources) back to their organizations with the goal of changing the culture around supporting those with lived experience.
Our goal is to have this program delivered across the country within the first few years following program launch. Program metrics tracked will include: • How many times the program has been delivered and where • Number of persons who attended programs • Participant feedback (quantitative and qualitative) • Changes in knowledge, understanding and/or attitudes about suicide and those who attempt suicide • Instructor feedback regarding the program and the reactions of attendees (qualitative) Program metrics will be recorded via AFSP Program tracking system, program feedback form(s), and follow up qualitative interviews with trainers and program participants. If successful, this program results will effect change in knowledge, understanding and/or attitudes toward those who attempt suicide and leave participants feeling more equipped to have challenging conversations about suicide.