The Vermont Youth Suicide Prevention Platform 2012 was released yesterday by the Center for Health and Learning. This program is developed from a grant awarded to the Center from SAMHSA and features 10 specific components, including a new website http://www.umatterucangethelp.com/ designed for youth to access themselves to get important information of what to do if they or someone they know may be at risk for suicide.
The full program, published in a user friendly and practical format, can be downloaded from the Center’s website here.
In reviewing the documents, much of the emphasis appears to be on public awareness and screening procedures. There are also important efforts to reduce access to lethal means and help various media outlets cover youth suicides without increasing the risk of contagion. Such initiatives add important dimensions to standard suicide prevention endeavors.
My only concern of the program might be a relative over-emphasis on identification of at-risk individuals and a relative under-emphasis on how to intervene effectively once these youth have been identified. With access to mental health professionals trained in evidence-based treatment of youth depression and suicidal behavior still incredibly in short supply, it is very possible that we will encounter a very unsettling bottleneck of identified youth needing services with no place to go.