Teen Life Counts, a school-based suicide awareness and intervention program, was established by Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans in 1984. It is designed for use in secondary schools but can be adapted for middle schools as well. The impetus for the program came from the belief that youth suicide can be prevented through educational programs aimed at developing awareness of risk factors and resources for help. This goal can be attained through the cooperative efforts of students, parents, teachers, principals, social workers, nurses, counselors, coaches, and general school staff.
There are five components to Teen Life Counts: 1. A classroom curriculum for secondary and middle school students. 2. In-depth training workshops for school professionals. 3. Comprehensive training workshops for volunteers. 4. School-based educational workshops for parents and general school staff. 5. Crisis intervention and postvention.
Upon completion of this program, students will learn safe problem-solving skills and each school will have at least two staff members trained as suicide resource persons. All participants will learn how to identify warning signs of suicide, how to talk to someone in crisis, and where to go for help.
OUR SUICIDE AWARENESS CURRICULUM IS AN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM, NOT A THERAPEUTIC PROGRAM.
The goal of the TLC program is to help sensitize students to the fact that some individuals in their peer group may be at high risk for suicide and require help. The purpose of developing this awareness and discussing available resources is to mobilize students to get help for the person in need. Since adolescents tend to confide in their peers, the program teaches teens to be a bridge to adults who can provide the professional help that is needed.
We recognize that there are concerns about discussing suicide with adolescents. We have found that this is a subject to which they have already been exposed. Our objective is to give students the opportunity to discuss their attitudes and concerns and to provide them with safe, problem-solving tools for dealing with suicidality.
“The physicians of this country are committed to reversing the startlingly high youth homicide and suicide statistics that exist in the United States; we rank highest among the 26 wealthiest nations. I know you will agree that the answer is prevention through increased public awareness and intervention with youth at risk... Jefferson Parish Medical Society has long been committed to teen suicide prevention through our support of your Teen Life Counts program. We are proud to be associated with such a highly regarded school-based suicide awareness and intervention program that reaches so many teens in our public, private, and parochial schools.” - Executive Director, Jefferson Parish Medical Society