Wash. suicide prevention program goes national - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wash. suicide prevention program goes national

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A Washington curriculum for suicide prevention has been recognized by a national resource center as a model program.

The Help Every Living Person curriculum, which teaches students about suicide prevention, was listed on the Suicide Prevention Resource Center's Best Practices Registry in February. The listing, one of only 12 in the nation, means that HELP is a model program for suicide prevention.

"I've seen so much excitement about HELP from many people," said Lisa Watson, curriculum coordinator for the Youth Suicide Prevention Program (YSPP), a private non-profit organization that developed the curriculum.  

The program was created in 2006 by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction with $100,000 from the state Legislature.

Since its development, HELP has become widely adopted in Washington. In several districts - such as Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, Renton, and Spokane - the curriculum is being used in every high school. More than 200 trained counselors and teachers in 135 schools are using HELP.

The curriculum has had positive effects. Charisa Moore, a health teacher at Bainbridge High School, said that the lessons learned have helped students with their own friends. "One student's story that stands out was a boy's phone call from his female friend," she said. "She was depressed and self medicating for months. When he got the phone call, he quickly recalled his lesson from the HELP curriculum. As he was on his cell phone, he continued to talk to her and didn't allow her to be alone. At the same time, he called 911 from his home phone and got help on the way.

"Talking to the girl now, she would have taken her life that night if he hadn't called 911. The medics got there in time to save her life."

A listing on the best practices registry means that the program has passed federal standards and thus federal money can be spent on the curriculum. It also means the curriculum has been rigorously evaluated and accepted.

Washington 9th and 10th graders have been using the curriculum for the past few years and now kids around the country are being exposed to the program.

(With information from the Wash. Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.)

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