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Suicide prevention: Reaching the greatest number of young people

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Background: Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian youth. To address this pressing concern, effective prevention programs that reach as many young people as possible are needed. We therefore set out to identify universal prevention programs that aim to reduce suicide among populations of young people regardless of risk levels.
Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating universal suicide prevention interventions for young people. After applying our rigorous inclusion criteria, we accepted four RCTs – evaluating three programs delivered in schools and one program delivered in an American Indian community.
Results: Aussie Optimism Enhanced, Signs of Suicide, and Youth Aware of Mental Health Programme showed benefits, including reducing suicidal behaviours in young people. The Apache Youth Entrepreneurship Program failed to show similar benefit, though it reduced cannabis use among participants.
Conclusions: School-based, universal prevention programs have the potential to reduce the number of young people making suicide attempts and experiencing suicidal ideation. Nevertheless, more studies, especially those involving Canadian youth, are needed.
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Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly
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Suicide prevention: Reaching the greatest number of young people
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