Suicide Prevention Program Implemented in Chatham Schools

Thursday, February 7th, 2019


This year, a new curriculum is being implemented in all ninth-grade health classes. It is a suicide prevention program called
Lifelines, which is taught by Ms. Lattarulo, the Student Assistance Counselor. Lifelines is a four-day course, and each day focuses on a different aspect of suicide and intervention. It is meant to raise awareness of teen suicide and erase the stigma and myths surrounding it. By providing facts, warning signs, and models of possible scenarios, it is an important resource for teens to understand how to help a friend that is struggling or what to do if they are approached by someone who is.

Ms. Lattarulo agreed to answer some questions to help inform students about Lifelines.

Q: What made the school decide to implement this program?

A: A discussion began several years ago following a wellness survey conducted by the school district which showed results that a portion of the middle school/high school population reported mental health symptoms and suicidal ideation. The district did not have a specific suicide prevention program—although it was being taught in health classes. It was decided to explore available curriculums. Lifelines is a proven evidence-based curriculum endorsed by SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration).

Q: How do you think it will impact students and the school as a whole?

A: As a result of teaching this curriculum in the last month, already a few students have come forward and asked for help because of what they learned in the class. This is the reason why having this curriculum matters. If it helps identify those who need help, then we have done our job.

Q: Are there any other upcoming events/curriculums related to this or that have stemmed from a need for more resources?

A: This year there were a few events that occurred to raise awareness about suicide.  The suicide walk was held in Chatham Township in September. In Their Shoes exhibit came to CHS in September to educate students and staff about suicide and mental health. A parent program was also held to educate parents about the warning signs of suicide and how to help children and teens who may be living with mental illness.

Q: What is the importance of having a course like this in school?

A: It is not always easy for students who need help to ask for help. This course provides a way to educate students and bring awareness to a very important and serious issue. By talking openly about suicide, it helps to break the stigma around asking for help. There are many misconceptions about mental illness. I believe this course helps to challenge those misconceptions.

Lifelines has also been added to the seventh-grade health curriculum. This program will continue to be taught every year and will make CHS a better community by providing greater help for students who need it. If you have had thoughts about suicide or know someone who has, it is imperative that you ask for help. It is not something to be ashamed about or keep a secret. The counselors, teachers, and coaches at CHS are all trained and here to talk if you need them. Suicide is a serious issue that can affect anyone, and knowing the signs and how to respond can make a real difference.