Develop a Peer Leadership/Peer Assistance Program

More than half of high school students report that they would not feel comfortable talking to a school professional about a personal problem and only one in three state that they would feel comfortable talking to a counselor if they had problems. However, three out of four adolescents state that they would first turn to a friend for help if they were contemplating suicide.

Therefore, schools should be proactive in implementing peer assistance programs. These programs educate students about the warning signs of suicide and how to refer troubled friends to school counselors and mental health professionals.

The most effective peer assistance programs in schools tend to be peer-led in nature. Students lead in the delivery of information and educational materials. In addition, students determine how their peers will receive suicide prevention information and the overall processes that will be utilized. Students will lead communication efforts to enhance peer awareness of suicide prevention.

An adult school professional (teacher, counselor, nurse, etc.) serves as the mentor of the program. This individual will help guide students and mentor students regarding University Students and Professor effective educational strategies, awareness enhancement techniques, and communication skills. The adult mentor also assists students in determining their overall plan on how they will increase awareness and enhance prevention.

Results of peer assistance programs have consistently shown increases in student knowledge and awareness regarding warning signs and help resources, as well as greater likelihood to refer at-risk peers to school counselors and mental health professionals.