A report has found some of the most commonly used suicide prevention and awareness programs for young people aren’t effective and may actually pose safety concerns.
“There is concern some of these programs might be actually doing harm,” said the report’s co-author Dr. Stan Kutcher, a professor of psychiatry at Dalhousie University.
The report is called “School- and Community-Based Youth Suicide Prevention Interventions: Hot Idea, Hot Air, or Sham?” and is available online.
The team performed a “focused systematic review” of published scientific literature (as well as studies that have not been published) on two school-based programs and one community-based program: Signs of Suicide, Yellow Ribbon, and SafeTALK, respectively.
“In one study of the Signs of Suicide program, five young people who received the program attempted suicide compared to none in the group that didn’t receive the program,” said Kutcher.
Richard Ramsay, president of LivingWorks Education, the company that developed SafeTALK, called the report an “opinion article” with “unfair allegations”.
He said that the evidence wasn’t robust, and that the program was judged with an unfair standard.
Ramsay also said the program is being independently evaluated on safety in Australia.
Kutcher said the appropriate government organization should regulate these programs.