7. Safe Messaging

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Districts that are more aggressively taking steps to prevent suicide in their schools may engage in a variety of strategies. It is critical that educators and school personnel who are leading these initiatives are fully aware of current safe messaging guidelines. Even with our best intentions, failing to follow these guidelines may have unintended negative consequences.


Terri A. Erbacher, Ph.D; Clinical Associate Professor, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine; Author of Suicide in Schools: A Practitioner’s Guide to Multi-Level Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention

Matthew Wintersteen, Ph.D; Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior Director of Research, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University; Executive Board, Prevent Suicide PA, Philadelphia, PA

Course Length: 30 minutes credit

Course Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to summarize best practices for safe messaging about suicide.
  2. Participants will be able to describe how certain practices for reporting and communicating about suicide can increase the risk of suicide contagion.
  3. Participants will be able to locate resources and information about a statewide youth suicide prevention PSA contest for high school students.

Course Supplemental Material:

  1. Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). Safe and Effective Messaging for Suicide Prevention. Available here.
  2. Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide comes from a collaborative effort of many of the nation’s leading organizations. It is a useful tool and guideline for not only working with the media but also in the development of PSA’s and other messaging in schools. Available here.
  3. National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Framework for Successful Messaging. Available here.

Course Achievement: No certificate will be available for this class. Completion for this class will, however, show up on the user’s transcript.  Once users complete the entire course (8 classes), they will be able to print a certificate.

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