The SOS Suicide Prevention Program

June 8, 2005 at 12:17 pm  •  Posted in Suicide Prevention by  •  0 Comments

By Timothy Tunner, PhD, MSW


The SOS Signs of Suicide® Program for secondary schools, co-sponsored by the National Association of Social Workers, is a cost-effective program of mental health screening and suicide prevention, which can be easily implemented by school social workers during one or two school periods.

A widely studied, evidence-based program, SOS is the first suicide prevention program to be selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration SAMHSA for its Registry of Effective Programs. It is the only school-based suicide prevention program that has been shown to reduce suicidality in a randomized, controlled study American Journal of Public Health, March 2004 .

The main teaching tool of the program is a video that teaches students how to identify symptoms of depression and suicidality in themselves or their friends and encourages help-seeking. 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. SOS is an action-oriented approach instructing students how to ACT Acknowledge, Care and Tell in the face of this mental health emergency.

How to Obtain a Kit

A kit of materials is available that includes a staff procedure manual and training video, student screening forms, an educational video and discussion guide, and brochures on suicide and depression for students and parents. Since 2000, more than 1,500 schools have implemented the program.

To learn more about the program or to obtain a kit, go to or call 781-239-0071.


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