Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland works exclusively with young people ages 12 -22 to raise awareness of youth suicide. We work with schools, colleges and youth groups to provide youth suicide prevention services which are all provided under the Four Steps to Help Programme for Schools.
Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland is already working with secondary schools in most counties to raise awareness of the youth suicide crisis in Ireland and provide suicide prevention workshops for students through our Integrated School Visits Programme. The programme has been running since 2012. We visited around 130 secondary schools and provided classroom based awareness and prevention training face to face with about 18,000 students in 2015-16. So far in 2016-17 we have 145 new schools in our programme and we are working to achieve our goal for over 28,000 face to face student sessions.
Four Steps to Help Programme for Schools
The Four Steps to Help Programme for schools is a fully integrated suicide awareness and prevention programme designed for use with ages 16+. It is the only national suicide prevention programme that is age appropriate and authorised for use in schools. It can also be used by colleges and youth groups.
The Four Steps to Help Programme is made up of:
National School Visits Programme
Our School Visits Programme provides trained facilitators who visit secondary schools by invitation. The facilitators provide classroom based presentations to transition, fifth and sixth years. Each student is provided with a 24 page booklet which details suicide awareness and prevention information relevant to their age. We provide these presentations and support materials free of charge to the schools. We have standing invitations from around 45 schools to return every year to present the programme to their new transition years.
Free Youth Counselling Services
Since the start of the school year in September 2015 we have been working to fund and develop free Youth Counselling Services for students from schools taking part in the Four Steps for Help Programme.
After receiving feedback from schools taking part in the Four Steps to Help Programme for Schools we decided that as many schools do not have full-time pastoral support such as a chaplain or an appropriately trained guidance counsellor it was appropriate for YSPI to fund a free counselling service. Through our Free2Talk Programme we now provide access to free counselling sessions, either face to face or online via video call, for any young person who needs to talk with someone about any issue that is causing them concern. We are hoping that we can open the free youth counselling service to all students in our participating schools and colleges during 2017 depending on sponsorship and funding.
FreeText Suicide Prevention Information Service
Feedback from students that we meet and talk with in schools highlighted the difficulty in getting suicide prevention and helpline information late at night or when out socialising especially if they have no internet access or phone credit.
Our response was to develop the FreeText Information Service. Anyone can text HELP to 50015 free of charge and receive a list of helplines and support information by text within 1 minute. We currently receive in excess of 1000 text requests per week most of which are received between 10pm and 4am.
Teachers’ Resource Packs
Working with teachers and other suicide prevention organisations we have developed a Teachers’ Manual which builds on the classroom presentations that we provide within the School Visits Programme.
The Teachers’ Manual provides background information on the causes of youth suicide and self-harm as well as statistics provided by the Central Statistics Office. This is then developed into a series of seven lesson plans with worksheets and handouts that teachers can use as part of a mental health module or project. There is also a test that can be used to bring the whole lesson cycle together. The Teachers’ Manual is provided free of charge to participating schools.
Secondary Teachers’ Handbook
We have also developed a Teachers’ Handbook which provides specialised information on crisis management, staff training and legal procedures for Secondary teachers.
Exam Support Training
In 2016-17 we are offering exam support courses in schools and colleges specifically designed to identify and help reduce extreme stress in 6th year secondary and final year university students. The incidence of youth suicide increases dramatically during exam season and this is mostly due to fear of failure and inability to deal with stress.
During the summer of 2016 we held a number of free training courses for teachers, youth group organisers and charity staff in how to facilitate the Four Steps to Help Programme in their schools and organisations. We are particularly keen to train facilitators who are fluent Irish speakers so the Four Steps to Help Programme can be presented in Gaeltacht schools and Irish Colleges as Gaeilge.