In a previous blog post we talked about the successful Parent Program that was held at Gurrie Middle School in La Grange.  Here we have Megan Linane, a Gurrie parent and registered nurse offering her insights in a two-part post.

As a registered nurse, and as mother to a 7th grade girl, I was particularly impressed when a permission slip came home regarding Elyssa’s Mission: Risk factors, Warning signs and How to Help.

Throughout nursing school I have written extensively on the benefits of early assessment and intervention pertaining to the mental health and wellness of children. Nurses always look to evidence-based practice. Elyssa’s Mission, and SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program had my attention at: “listed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for its National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREPP).”

These days, there is a growing trend toward community health interventions, which are designed and implemented to improve the health outcomes of our children. The power of student and parent participation in such programs must not be underestimated.

Parents should know that Elyssa’s Mission is capitalizing on the key components to intervention, which are necessary for the safety of children:

  • Universal interventions target whole school populations with the aim of reducing risk factors or enhancing protective factors across an entire population.
  • Selective interventions target subgroups that are not showing signs of suicidal behavior but that are displaying risk factors that could place them at greater risk in the future.
  • Indicated interventions target children who are already displaying suicidal behavior, for example, those who have expressed intent.

The SOS program teaches the basics of therapeutic communication, a cornerstone skill nurses use to focus in on a specific need of a person in crisis, and how to promote an effective exchange of information. From viewing the video at the Elyssa’s Mission Parent Training, I recognize the use of several therapeutic communication techniques including: giving recognition, offering self, and formulating a plan of action. These techniques are simplified for student development of an instinctual response by using the ACT technique: Acknowledge that there is a problem, Care about your friend and Tell a trusted adult.

As a nurse, I recognize a necessary and appropriate need for a focus on peer intervention. During adolescence, the peer group becomes the primary source of social, and emotional connections. The SOS program capitalizes on this key concept by teaching recognition, and by empowering peers to intervene when confronted with a friend who is exhibiting these symptoms.

Elyssa’s Mission’s Parent Training highlights the fact that most teens who complete or attempt suicide have given some type of warning to loved ones ahead of time. The training goes beyond risk factors, warning signs, and what to do. It proactively separates fact from fiction, teaches parents to instinctively watch and listen for subtle signals, challenges parents to ask questions, encourages parents to practice parental monitoring, and teaches parents how to enforce their duty in keeping children safe online. As a parent, I must encourage this underutilized, and free resource Elyssa’s Mission offers to parents in partnering schools.

Stay Tuned for Part II when Megan Linane relies on her nursing skills to provide additional recommendations for parents