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Suicide Briefs

Youth and Suicide

Did you know that nearly 14% of high school students report seriously considering suicide?1,2 That's three students in an average classroom of 20. Did you know that deaths from youth suicide in the US are estimated to cost more than $6 billion a year in medical costs and work loss? These numbers highlight the economic and human cost of youth suicidal behavior to every person, every family and every community in our country, as well as the need for successful prevention efforts.

As suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, CDC's Division of Violence Prevention (DVP) is committed to stopping suicide before it ever occurs. An important step in making this happen is ensuring people have access to the best available knowledge and tools to prevent suicide. Equally important is to make certain this information is also actionable, so it can be put into practice.

Suicide Prevention Tools

DVP worked collaboratively with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and three local suicide prevention programs in Tennessee, Oregon, and Maine to do just that. Through this partnership, the local programs developed three actionable knowledge tools, to improve prevention efforts in communities.

  • The Tennessee Lives Count initiative created the Gatekeeper Training Implementation Support System (GTISS), an online resource that provides tools to support successful selection, implementation, and evaluation of gatekeeper training programs. The GTISS provides accessible, online tools for assisting organizations, trainers, and program managers in tailoring gatekeeper training experiences to their settings. It also provides action focused tools and tips for overcoming common barriers to selecting, implementing, and evaluating gatekeeper training programs.
  • The Native American Rehabilitation Association's Life is Sacred Native Youth Suicide Prevention Program is built upon the unique role culture plays in prevention of youth suicide. Several tools were developed with information for service providers and families on factors that put youth at risk for and protect them from suicide, including a family brochure [PDF - 805KB] with action-oriented messages on how families can decrease risk youths' risk and increase protection from suicidal behavior.
  • The Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program(MYSPP) developed the MYSPP Early Identification and Referral Data Toolkit, an online resource that provides guidance and actionable tools for collecting early identification and referral data on students at risk for suicidal behavior in schools. It is often difficult to identify students at risk for suicide in schools. This is due in large part to the fact that collecting accurate data to guide programming is often a challenge in applied settings, and this challenge is magnified when attempting to collect data in schools on sensitive topics, like risk for suicide. The MYSPP Early Identification and Referral Data Toolkit is an online resource that provides guidance and actionable tools for collecting these data in schools using a gatekeeper surveillance system.

Photo: A group of people walkingEach local program created these tools using DVP's Actionable Knowledge framework, which the division adapted from the Institute for Work and Health3 to make research and evaluation findings easier to apply and use. This framework focuses on answering four main questions:

  • What do we want our audience to do?
  • Who do we want to take action?
  • How should the message be delivered?
  • What is our desired impact, and how will we measure it?

Suicide Prevention Research and Evaluation

What's more, through this collaboration, DVP created a series of actionable knowledge briefs to help integrate research into suicide prevention efforts in local communities. These three briefs are meant to help suicide prevention practitioners put some of the most recent findings on suicide prevention into action:

CDC's strategic direction for preventing suicide focuses on promoting individual, family, and community connectedness to prevent suicidal behavior. "Connectedness" means the degree to which an individual or group is socially close, interrelated, or shares resources with other individuals or groups. This includes connectedness between individuals; individuals and families to community organizations; and community organizations to social institutions.

By working with other agencies and local programs to develop guidance and tools, DVP has taken this direction and put it into play, in order to improve suicide prevention practice.

More Information


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2009. Surveillance Summaries, June 4. MMWR 2010; 59(No. SS-5).
  2. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). Characteristics of Public, Private, and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary Teachers in the United States: Results from the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey (NCES 2009-324).
  3. Reardon, R.; Lavis, J.; Gibson, J. From research to practice: A knowledge transfer and planning guide. Institute for Work and Health, 2006

CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

  • Page last reviewed: April 9, 2012
  • Page last updated: April 9, 2012
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs