Date of Publication

Spring 1-17-2018


Introduction. Adolescent suicide is epidemic. 17% of high school students con- sidered suicide and 8% attempting to take their lives in 2015 nationwide. Vermont has seen a 2% increase within the last two years according to the VT Youth Risk Behavior Survey. School is one of several settings where effective suicide interventions could take place. Previous studies have identified means prevention as an effective way to combat adolescent suicide. This study aims to identify training levels and comfort of school staff in dealing with suicidality.

Methods. A survey was emailed to all schools in Vermont covering grades 6-12. The survey addressed employee demographics, training, perception of suicide in their school, and concern regarding lethal means. Questions were multiple choice, scaled and free responses. Data was analyzed using SPSS and free responses were organized using thematic content analysis.

Results. 126 responses represented 46% of Vermont middle and high schools. 77% agreed or strongly agreed that they felt confident in recognizing a student with suicidality. Respondents were not comfortable implementing lethal means prevention. Respondents identified early intervention and trusting communicative relationships as key to prevention, and identified lack of time, protocols, and resources as obstacles.

Discussion. Respondents identified suicidality in 2.2% of their students, com- pared to the YRBS that recognized 12% of adolescents. Survey technique may con- tribute to this discrepancy, but it is also likely that schools are failing to identify students at risk. A lack of comfort recognizing suicidality and implementing prevention techniques warrants standardized training, screening and response protocols.


Jill Jemison

UVM Larner College of Medicine

Kristin Fontaine

UVMMC Community Health Improvement


Adolescent Health, Injury and Violence Prevention

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

Needs Assessment of Suicide Prevention in Vermont Middle and High Schools