Signs of Suicide

Signs of Suicide is a School-based Curriculum for 6th – 12th grade students


As a part of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Behavioral Health Suicide Prevention Grant, the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program, which is a school-based mental health curriculum about depression and suicide prevention, has been a great success in the Juneau School District since it’s initial implementation in December 2008. This is the result of a great deal of collaboration, coordination, and training between the Juneau School District and Mental Health and Social Services agencies. The SOS program, which was developed by Screening for Mental Health and is recognized by the Federal Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) for its National Registry of Evidence-based Program and Practices, specifically addresses depression and suicide prevention. It is an action-oriented approach instructing students how to ACT (Acknowledge, Care, and Tell) in the face on a mental health emergency.


In addition to this curriculum, students at YDHS and 9th grade students at JDHS and TMHS will also be given a self-referral card. The card provides an opportunity for the student to talk to a counselor about themself or a friend they are worried about. Instead of the full curriculum, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students are given a booster course. All parents will be notified of the program two weeks prior to the implementation of SOS. If you have questions regarding SOS in our Juneau Schools, please contact your child’s School Counselor or the School District SOS Coordinator, Hilary Young at 523.1605.


JDHS students leading a booster to their peers



Due to its effectiveness and success, thousands of schools across the country are now utilizing the SOS program, which is the only empirically researched based school-wide suicide prevention and intervention program to demonstrate statistically significant declines in self-reported suicidal attempts (please see attached PDF version of research from American Journal of Public Health, March, 2004). Through lecture, classroom activities, and general classroom discussion, students in the Juneau School District now learn about: depression and suicide warning signs, risk factors, how to get help, and the do’s and dont’s regarding depression and/or suicidal ideation. The program’s primary objectives are to educate teens that depression is a treatable illness and to equip them to respond to a potential suicide in a friend or family member using the SOS technique.