Teen Suicide Prevention Program

Monday, May 7, 2018

By Donna Hawkey

After two teens attending Shorecrest High School died by suicide a few years ago, parents from both high schools stepped in to help make a difference after they felt a new support approach was needed. Washington State has one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the nation.

Last spring, a new program called “Forefront” was presented to parents. Within just ten days, enough money was raised to bring in a suicide prevention and education program for the first year. This financial support all came from families within the Shoreline and Lake Forest Park School District communities!

About $50,000 more in financial assistance will be needed to fully fund the three-year program called “Forefront in the Schools” (FIS). FIS is connected with the University of Washington and has become a leader in suicide prevention and education. The Shoreline School Board is in support of the program but doesn’t have the budget available.

The first all-day Forefront workshop and training took place last October and uses the “train the trainer” model. Two parents, two teachers, two counselors and two school administrators were trained. In the first year, the parents train the parents, teachers will train the teachers in the second year, and students train other students in the third and final year of the program.

In March, the first presentation and workshop took place for all parents with an emphasis on high school age teens. A program for middle schoolers will also be developed within the next year or two.

The Forefront program can bring hope and support and compassion to those struggling and to those in need.

The word suicide is difficult to say and to understand for most people. You need to be comfortable with the possible answer and that comfort level, and knowing the right things to say or not to say, is something no parent is prepared for.

Like many serious social topics, misinformation and stigmas abound, but this program can help make a difference.

Untreated depression leads to suicide ideations and possibly a successful suicide, and this now affects all communities.
20% of Shoreline School District students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade rated themselves as depressed in a self-survey which is the national average.

The Forefront program, led by several trained high school parents, includes the following information:
  • There is no “type” of a suicidal person.
  • Almost 50% of all suicides involve a firearm.
  • 82% of youth suicides by firearms involve a family gun. So safe storage of guns is imperative!
  • 4 in 10 teens get their prescription drugs from the home medicine cabinet. 95% of parents don’t believe their child would take a prescription drug for misuse.
  • 2 youth die by suicide each week and is the 2nd leading cause of death for 15-19 year old’s in Washington State.
  • National hospital admissions for suicidal children ages 5-17 doubled between 2008-2105.
  • Suicide ideations and attempts come from internal pain creating a feeling of hopelessness and depression. Many complicated reasons can add to the risk factors.
  • A supportive family, strong social networks, and a willingness to seek help are protective factors.
Some of the most important things to do if warning signs are apparent is to ask directly if the person is thinking of suicide and be a good listener - don’t try to fix the problem!

If suicide is considered don’t leave that person alone, reduce the immediate danger by calmly being fully present, thank that person for their honesty and only reflect back to them what they say to you and with much compassion and kindness.

Information resources
Are You Thinking of Suicide?
If you are thinking of suicide The best help is to talk with someone – and you can do that anonymously and confidentially through these resources below.
  • If you are in King County, please call their 24-Hour Crisis Line.
    • Toll-Free: 866-4CRISIS (866-427-4747)
    • Local: 206-461-3222
    • TTY:206-461-3210
  • If you are outside of King County, 
    • please call 9-1-1 or 
    • call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) for immediate assistance.


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