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The effectiveness of middle and high school-based suicide prevention programmes for adolescents: a systematic review
  1. Michael D Cusimano1,2,
  2. Mojib Sameem1,3
  1. 1Injury Prevention Research Office, Keenan Research Centre, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Michael Cusimano, Injury Prevention Research Office, Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St Michael's Hospital, 2 Queen St East, Suite #10-05, Toronto, Ontario M5C 3G7, Canada; injuryprevention{at}


Objective To assess the effectiveness of middle and high school-based suicide prevention curricula.

Data sources The following were searched: Ovid MEDLINE(R) in-process and other non-indexed citations and Ovid MEDLINE(R), Ovid Healthstar, CINAHL, PsycINFO, all EBM reviews—Cochrane DSR, ACP Journal Club, DARE, CCTR, CMR, HTA, and NHSEED, and the ISI Web of Science, until October 2009; government web pages for statistics and other demographic data in countries where they were available; citation lists of relevant articles.

Review methods Randomised controlled studies, interrupted time series analyses with a concurrent comparison group, studies with follow-up examinations (post-test questionnaires and monitoring suicide rates), and middle to high school-based curriculum studies, including both male and female participants, were included.

Results 36 potentially relevant studies were identified, eight of which met the inclusion criteria. Overall, statistically significant improvements were noted in knowledge, attitude, and help-seeking behaviour. A decrease in self reported ideation was reported in two studies. None reported on suicide rates.

Conclusion Although evidence exists that school-based programmes to prevent suicide among adolescents improve knowledge, attitudes, and help-seeking behaviours, no evidence yet exists that these prevention programmes reduce suicide rates. Further well designed, controlled research is required before such programmes are instituted broadly to populations at risk.

  • Suicide
  • suicide prevention
  • school-based programs
  • adolescent suicide
  • youth suicide
  • adolescent
  • education
  • program
  • systematic review

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.