New Insight on Suicide Prevention

December 13, 2019

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Rochester Beacon

Schoolwide networks of close friends and trusted adults may protect teens from suicide risk, a new study suggests. Researchers surveyed students in 38 high schools and asked them to name peers and adults at their school with whom they had close relationships. They found that rates of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts were higher in schools where students had fewer friends and friendships were concentrated among fewer students. Rates of suicide attempts were also higher in schools where students lacked close connections to adults. In schools where close friends had bonds with the same trusted adult, attempt rates were lower. These findings highlight the value of fostering social connectedness as a prevention strategy, said lead author Peter Wyman, a psychiatry professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Most suicide prevention is centered on the high-risk individual,” Wyman said. “We wanted this study to provide us with new ways of thinking on how to intervene to strengthen protective relationships on a broader school level, and even on a community level.”

Spark Extra! Read a success story about building connectedness among Native youth.