Sample Public Relations Paper on Suicide and Palm Beach County Teens

Suicide Prevention Proposal

Suicide is one of the leading causes of deaths among teens in the country. For more than 35 years, the rate at which teens commit suicide has increased across the U.S., leading to uproar among healthcare providers and school authorities. Out of the 5,000 suicide cases committed in the country, young people of between ages 15 to 24 account for majority of the cases. Furthermore, special cases also arise from other persons in the society like gay and lesbian students, accounting for 30% of the suicides. The major reasons for suicidal attempts and completions among are isolation, dysfunctional families, cultural and demographic factors, depression, and low self-esteem. Palm Beach County has been on the limelight concerning the number of suicide cases by school-going young people from varied racial backgrounds. Reports on the suicide attempts are on the increase within Palm Beach County. Evidence comes from several sources and the general attitudes that are reported by survivors and close friends. The major causes of suicide attempts by the adolescents and the teenagers are depression and drug abuse. Without a proper suicide prevention program, all stakeholders agree that the county may soon land into more trouble with a mentally disturbed youthful generation.

Teen suicide prevention program would be an important step for the Palm Beach County to, not only prevent but also, create awareness on the signs of mental health that could lead to suicide. Beautrais (2005) notes that most students who exhibit at-risk signs lack certain skills that could help them accomplish certain developmental tasks in life. Therefore, the prevention program will consider developing skills of the students to help deal with life situations. This proposal will entail developing a student curriculum that gives those students who join the program an opportunity to undergo training on various aspects of suicide and the related symptoms. The participating students will have knowledge of how to identify warning signs and suicidal tendencies. Understanding the warning signs will create awareness of the teenagers’ behaviors as well as those of their friends. With an enhanced knowledge, teenagers will be able to get help for themselves or refer their friends who may be at risk of suicide. Therefore, the prevention program will focus on the awareness of suicidal tendencies by the high school teenagers. The last aim of teen suicide prevention is to reduce the stigma associated with suicide prevalence. All stakeholders must have a common front in order to prevent suicide attempts. The program majorly focuses on training students and teachers to understand and point out certain mental disorders among the young people. With knowledge and increased awareness of the problems, students will be encourage to seek help in good time. Schools under the program will be equipped with necessary facilities to allow for the professionals to deal with cases that arise.

Evaluating Palm Beach County Teen Suicide Prevention Program

Palm Beach County parents, schools, teachers, and community have had problems with suicide attempts among the school-going teens. Implementing the suicide prevention program will help all stakeholders to find a way of tackling the situation. However, the major aim of this paper is to come up with an evaluation program for the prevention effort. People may never know what may have happened, unless the victim leaves behind a suicide note (Randell, Eggert, & Pike, 2001). There must be a way of proving that suicide attempts reduced in Palm Beach County within the implementation period.

Objectives of Evaluation

The evaluation of the program will help to determine whether the implemented program achieved its goals or not. Suicide is a mental disorder that arises from several issues that may not be easily detected. Most cases are detected when the victims have already attempted suicide, sometimes with fatal results. The evaluation process will help determine if prevention objectives have been met by the program in schools. The suicide prevention program may work or not when implemented. According to World Health Organization (2000), evaluation helps in finding out the strengths and weaknesses of a program in order to find ways of making necessary adjustments. Evaluation also helps to determine the value of money used in a program. Most of the people fail to access mental health programs like counseling because they cannot afford it. This prevention program is heavily funded in order to help teenagers know how to deal with cases within themselves. The evaluation will help to justify the county’s allocation of resources on the program.

Outline of the Evaluation Program

  1. All stakeholders will be contacted and engaged appropriately at the beginning of the evaluation time.
  2. Stakeholders will be given the evaluation program, description of the program for their knowhow.
  3. Gathering data on the suicide cases within the implementation period. The data must be credible before they are admitted
  4. Analysis of the collected data.
  5. Making and justifying conclusions of the suicide analysis.
  6. Sharing the outcome of the evaluation process with relevant authorities and the public.

Evaluation Design for the Program

Evaluation requires a proactive approach that seeks to use evidence in light of the reported cases. In this evaluation design, the major components will include Existing Data Inventory (EDI), which will provide information on current reported cases on suicide attempts and completions. The information will help in determining the trend within a certain timeline within Palm Beach County. Referral Network Survey (RNS) is another component that will provide information on the number of referral cases within the county (Michel, Frey, Wyss, & Valach, 2000). Referrals help in demining the sources of cases as well as the severity. Reporting starts from the ground, maybe by the peers, self, teachers, or siblings. Referrals from schools and homes through health professionals will help to determine the issues at hand and how they are dealt with. The prevention program also entails the use of Early Identification and Referral Form (EIRF). Information from this form will also be used during evaluation because most of teen suicides arise from the inability of the people to identify the early signs. One of the aims of the prevention program is to help teens and the whole community to learn early suicide signs. Other components will be the Training Exit Survey (TES) and Product and Services Inventory (PSI). These are the major components of the evaluation design that will help to determine the effectiveness of the prevention program.

Identification and Data Collection Methods

The program seeks to evaluate the process and outcome of the prevention strategy within the county schools. The strategy entails the use of data collection methods that enhance accuracy on reporting and evaluation. The following are some of the data collection methods:

Questionnaires and Surveys

The questionnaires will have general questions that seek to collect information on the general changes in attitudes and knowledge of the stakeholders like the teenagers, teachers, and the school managements on suicide matters. The information will help the evaluation team to understand the positive changes that may have occurred to the participants during trainings and other program activities during implementation.

Interviews

The evaluation process will entail collecting information from members of the intervention community in order to get a picture of the situation on the ground. The questions will seek to find out their knowledge and experiences during the implementation stage of the suicide prevention program.

Ethnographic Data Analysis

Ethnographic analysis will entail the use of regional areas, detailing all activities with specific timelines. The information will include the amount of funds allocated to each of the regional teams to accomplish the tasks.

Explanation of the Evaluation Method

The evaluation method does not only seek the performance of the suicide prevention program but also helps to improve the same program. Suicide among teenagers in Palm Beach County must be dealt with and the program must be effective when it comes to the objectives. The best evaluation program should show the situation during the reporting period. This technique puts into use the latest researches in order to improve effectiveness of the program among the teenagers in the county. The effectiveness of the program depends on the available resources and expertise. Therefore, this evaluation will be effective in ensuring the continued redesigning of the suicide prevention program to improve the effectiveness.

The proposed evaluation tool narrows on the process and the outcome in order to determine the long-term effects of the program. On process, this evaluation process majors on the inputs for the suicide prevention plan. For instance, it details the amount of funds spent in each region. Other inputs include the number of trainers, the materials used, and the number of trainees. Other than the input, the evaluation tool details the actual activities during training. Analyzing the process will also entail determining outputs like the knowledge acquired during the trainings, changes in attitudes from the students, teachers, and school administrations within Palm Beach County.

The evaluation will also entail the determination of outcomes from the processes. The three types of income could be immediate, intermediate, and long-term. On immediate outcomes, the evaluation will seek to identify at-risk teenagers. The report will show how many teenagers were diagnosed during the reporting period. On the same note, evaluation will find out the number of referrals made during the time. Intermediate outcomes will look at the referral cases from the immediate outcomes. This section will analyze the clinical assessments made and the subsequent treatment methods and processes. Lastly, the long-term outcome will look at the number of suicide cases during the reporting period.

The Conclusion from the Data Analysis

Outcome of the analysis from the evaluation process will help in determining the effectiveness of the program in place. Suicide prevention program is a tool that should help teenagers and other stakeholders to have greater knowledge on the mental problems that lead to suicidal thoughts and acts. Evaluation is important because it will establish the effect of knowledge enhancement concerning suicide and depression. It is highly possible that evaluation conclusion will relate the level of knowledge concerning depression and depression. A reduction on the number of suicide attempts after the exposure to the prevention program will be a positive outcome for the county in the fight against depression and suicide. It will be important to draw a conclusion on the impact of exposing more students to the suicide prevention program. For the school-based suicide prevention plan, a reduction on the self-report from the participating schools will lead to a positive conclusion on the program.

Recommendations for Improvements

Evaluation will likely face challenges as dictated by certain factors. For instance, the general number of deaths through suicide, especially by the teenagers, is small. Therefore, sampling data collected over a short time may not give an accurate information. According to Jones (2001), the evaluation process may require data taken over a longer period to study the trend. Accuracy of the data taken for evaluation is another concern. For instance, most people do not prefer to indicate suicide as the cause of death in certificate for fear of victimization or to protect family reputations. Evaluation outcome may likely be inaccurate when data given to the team is not accurate. The delays in receiving information and difficulty in sharing the same to the team are another challenge during the evaluation. Certain agencies may find it difficult to share suicide attempts for analysis.

Recommendations against the above challenges will be as follows: focus on the suicide incidences over several years to help evaluators to determine trends on the increase and decrease in the suicide cases within Palm Beach County. To enhance the sharing of information, there will be a need to foster stronger relationships with stakeholders like the local police departments, local hospitals, and relevant educational institutions. To improve the impact of the prevention program, the evaluation would require a measure of both suicide attempts and completions. In most cases, attempts are more than the actual completions (World Health Organization, 2000). Evaluation should capture the number of suicide attempts against the number of deaths within the same period. The use of quality data will also help in finding out certain gaps that may exist during reporting and collection of suicide data.

The report will be made with an analysis of the results and recommendations. The information will be the communiated to the relevant stakeholders, starting from the Palm Beach County health officials. The document will be shared with all the agencies that participated in the formulation and implementation of the teen suicide prevention program to find out the impact and areas that need changes. Necessary changes will be done in order to improve the effectiveness of the program.

 

References

Beautrais, A. L. (2005). National Strategies for the Reduction and Prevention of Suicide. Crisis:

The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 26(1), 2005, 1–3.

Randell, B. P., Eggert, L. L., & Pike, K. C. (2001). The immediate post-intervention effects of

two brief youth suicide prevention interventions. Suicide Life Threat Behavior, 31:41–61.

Jones, R. (2001). Suicide watch. American School Board Journal, 16-20.

Michel, K., Frey, C., Wyss, K., & Valach, L. (2000). An exercise in improving suicide reporting

in print media. Crisis, 21(2): 71-79.

World Health Organization. (2000). Preventing suicide: A resource for teachers and other

school staff. Available from http://www.who.int/mental_health/documents/Suicide/resteacher_web.pdf