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Salud mental

versión impresa ISSN 0185-3325


CHAVEZ-HERNANDEZ, Ana María; MEDINA NUNEZ, Miriam Carolina  y  MACIAS-GARCIA, Luis Fernando. Psycho-educative model for young suicide prevention. Salud Ment [online]. 2008, vol.31, n.3, pp.197-203. ISSN 0185-3325.

Suicide occurrence is ever more often amongst 15-24-year-old youngsters, and it ranks as the second or third cause of death in some countries. Likewise, suicide attempts are more frequent amongst teenagers than amongst any other age group. Several studies agree that the portion of population with the highest suicide risk is that ranging from ages 15 to 24 and that Mexico is one of the countries wherein this trend, and suicide in general, is more rapidly increasing. On the other hand, almost 5% of all the country's suicides take place in the State of Guanajuato. The process of suicide is a complex and dynamic one that goes through a series of stages before culminating in the life-ending act. These phases, from merely picturing the idea to brandishing it as a verbal threat, planning and executing it, may very well be identified in advance, hence allowing for adequate intervention. Therefore, understanding suicide dynamics and identifying risk factors reduce the likelihood of suicide in specific populations: this is the core of suicide prevention. Such prevention programs take place within the every day environment of the people to whom they are targeted and their efficiency increase as the acknowledgement of both their needs and resources is more precise. It is because of this, and as a response to the lack of information pertaining suicide prevention programs in Mexico, that this report is presented. It stems from a preventive experience amongst high school youths in the State of Guanajuato. The aim of the aforementioned preventive workshop was to awaken risk prevention amongst high school students through a psycho-educative strategy. The workshop, called <<Saving Lives>>, inspired in the <<Gatekeeper>> model and based on previous studies of that same population, consisted of ten hours spliced in five two-hour sessions throughout which scientific information on suicide was presented, suicide-related myths analyzed, attendants were trained for detecting people at stake, and intervention, channeling and self-care suggestions were made. Suicide awareness was assessed both prior and upon workshop ending; furthermore, the workshop itself was evaluated through a questionnaire. Trained psychology students cursing the tenth semester were appointed coordinators and high school students of both sexes attended the workshop. The invitation was open to the general public and those who completed all five stages were certified <<Informed Guardians>>. The workshop was carried out in eight of the ten high schools administered by the Universidad de Guanajuato in the state. Sixty-nine students attended and completed all five set sessions. The average age of attendants was 16.1 years old; standard deviation was 1.3 years; 69% of them were female. Out of 22 possible points included in the suicide knowledge evaluation questionnaire, the average result on first answering was 12.59 correct answers, which rose to 15.97 upon completing the workshop. The range of grades was increased one point for both the minimum and the maximum values and standard deviation was reduced from 2.62 to 2.49. The increase in suicide knowledge was then proved through a <<T>> test for two dependent samples since it showed the significance of the result increase (p<0.001). The benefits of the workshop were tested through attendants' comments and coordinators reports analyses. Tearing down of suicide myths such as the confusion between the embracing of suicide ideas and their actual fulfillment, the consideration of suicide as a sign of either bravery or mental illness, the notion that talking about suicide with someone who has expressed his wish for committing suicide is tactless or that a suicidal does not show any warning signals were outstanding elements. The workshop evaluation questionnaire, objective fulfillment, workshop methodology, time management and topic selection were all praised by the attendants. The third workshop evaluation instrument involved the coordinators' reports, thus corroborating the workshop reach and gaining further information: six of the attendants knew someone who had tried suicide; seven more had embraced suicidal ideas, of whom five actually tried them out actively. <<Saving Lives>> left amongst its conclusions the fact that 12 out of 69 attendants acknowledged having either embraced or tried suicide previously. This could have proved motivation enough so as to become <<Informed Guardians>> and pin-points the importance or teenage prevention, for not only are they the group with the highest risk but also because they are the first to know of changes and/or suicide risk within their circle of friends. Besides, when trained as suicide prevention agents, they may spread the word and adequate information not only in school-based environments but wherever they happen to interact, be it at home or recreational centers, amongst many others. Another benefit that stems from the workshop is an even more accurate definition of suicide concepts. Several suicide myths were clarified. The fact that the workshop coordinators were students was regarded as positive by both attendants and the coordinators themselves. In spite of the appalling increase in mortality figures due to suicide, there are virtually no suicide prevention programs in Mexico, and the scarce ones are utterly limited. The proposed workshop proved a means of effective objective reach since not only does it provide information pertaining specific suicide facts but also focuses on the needs and helping possibilities embodied by the <<Informed Guardians.>> Moreover, thanks to having been designed based on previous studies of the same population, it is so flexible a project that it can be adapted for further use in elementary schools. Such an extensive and urgent task as suicide prevention should summon the combined effort of all social spheres. The established misconception that suicide care is a responsibility constrained to certain institutions, limits the individual responsibility so much as the society's, as well as prevention itself. An effective dispel of such conception amongst young attendants was another achievement of the workshop. The challenge now is to reach cooperation agreements with all social participants who have a word in it so as to stop and revert the current increasing trend in suicide.

Palabras llave : Suicide; prevention; students; Guanajuato; Mexico.

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