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In the aftermath of the traumatic death of a young person, the question of assemblies and large scale presentations is posed frequently as loved ones and community members want to provide youth suicide prevention education to adolescents. It is important for us to remember the essence of prevention is keeping youth safe.

According to the Lifelines Postvention curriculum, second edition, published in 2018 by Hazelden Publishing and written by Maureen Underwood, LCSW, large gatherings and/or assemblies are not recommended for numerous reasons.

Large assemblies overlook the opportunity to address youth in a smaller more intimate setting. Adolescents may not feel comfortable asking pertinent questions or disclosing personal feelings in a large group gathering. Large gatherings such as assemblies pose an obstacle in attendee engagement and make it difficult for the facilitator to gauge who the at-risk or vulnerable youth are in the crowd. The Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in 2016, surveyed 100,000 High School students over a one-year period reports approximately 17% of 12th grade students are thinking about suicide. Suicide and traumatic loss are sensitive issues which may have a negative impact on vulnerable youth present at an assembly style presentation who may not be identified in such a large gathering.

SPTS takes pride in following safe messaging guidelines pertaining to the traumatic loss. Information and resources regarding the above issue are easily accessible on our website. If you have additional concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us by phone or email.

Additional Resources:

Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide – Sponsor of this program. Focuses on resources for the competent school community, including Lifelines (an evidence-based suicide prevention program for schools).

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Free and confidential, 24-hour crisis hotline. Offers free materials.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Includes resources for all states, and on-line library, and best practices registry.

American Association of Suicidology – Data, resources, links, journals, and national conferences.

The Trevor Project – Specific information geared towards LGBTQ+ youth.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Survivor resources, research, and awareness.