Lifelines: Suicide Prevention Curriculum

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Letter to Families: 5th & 6th Grade Lifelines Prevention Curriculum


Dear Parents and Guardians,


We will begin the Lifelines Prevention curriculum, an evidence-based suicide prevention program, in our fifth- and sixth-grade classes. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death, even among children this young. Because one of the main objectives of this curriculum is to encourage our students to identify trusted adults in their lives to whom they can turn if they have concerns about themselves or their friends, we want to provide you with an outline of the four class sessions to make it easier for you to talk with your child about these important lessons.


Lesson 1: Suicide Isn’t Silly

Although most students have heard about suicide, the word still carries a mysterious and somewhat scary meaning, because it deals with death. It’s not unusual, then, that many younger students make jokes about it. This session begins with discussion about what the students already know about suicide. This is followed by an activity that demonstrates how the assumptions we make about something like suicide can influence both our ability to understand it and how we solve problems related to it. Basic information about suicide is provided with a focus on help-seeking when you are worried about yourself or a peer.


Ask your child:


  • What did you learn in class about suicide today? Was this new information or did you already know it?
  • Have you talked about suicide in any of your other classes? Tell me about it.
  • Do any of your friends talk about suicide? What do they say?
  • I know the title of the lesson was “Suicide Isn’t Silly.” What did your class have to say about that
  • What’s one thing you could tell me to help me better understand suicide?


Lesson 2: Friends Help Friends

Because so much of today’s communication among youth takes place online or through smartphones, this lesson focuses on the differences between in-person communication and communication through texting or online messages, especially when it concerns potential suicide risk. Students will explore developmentally relevant signs that a peer may need help. They will begin to explore interventions to help troubled friends.


Ask your child:


  • I know you talked about how the way people react to texts or online messages can be different from the way they react to the same messages in an in-person conversation. What did you think about that?
  • Do you ever see things online that worry you? What are some of the things someone who needs help might say?
  • Can you tell the difference when someone online is making a joke and when they are serious? Is it easier to do that in an in-person conversation? Tell me why.
  • Tell me one thing you could do if you were worried about a friend.


Lesson 3: Asking for Help Takes Courage

Through an activity that explores different life situations that require courage, the topic of being courageous enough to ask for help is introduced. A classroom activity will help students identify the qualities of helpful people. School-based resources will be reviewed so students know where and how to get help for themselves or a peer when they are in school.


Ask your child:


  • Tell me about some of the things you talked about in class today that require courage.
  • Would you add anything else to that list? What?
  • Why do you think it takes courage to ask for help?
  • What are some of the qualities you think makes a person helpful?
  • Who are the people you’re supposed to go to in the school if you need help? Do you think you would go to them, or would you go to someone else? Who?


Lesson 4: Practicing What We’ve Learned

In the last lesson, the ideas students have learned in the previous three sessions are demonstrated in video segments of youth dealing with a peer who may need help. After a discussion, students are asked to sign a help-seeking pledge, promising that if they are ever worried about themselves or a friend, they will go to a trusted adult for help. They also receive a small card where they can write the names and contact information of their trusted adults.


Ask your child:


  • Tell me about the videos you saw in class today. What did you think of them?
  • What did you think about the way the kids handled the situation? (Situation: A peer sent a worrisome text message to his friends. One of the girls who was involved finally told her mother and one of her teachers.)
  • What is the help-seeking pledge?
  • You don’t have to tell me who they are if you don’t want to, but were you able to name some of the trusted adults in your life? If your child answers “no,” suggest: Let’s talk about this some more and see if we can’t come up with at least one person you might consider a trusted adult. If any of your child’s answers to these questions worry or confuse you, please reach out to (insert contact person’s name) at (insert contact information). They would be happy to talk with you. We appreciate you devoting your time and energy to help extend the learning in the classroom about the importance of help-seeking to your child’s life outside the school. We know that suicide prevention needs to start early, and all of us have a role to play on the school’s prevention team.


For more information, please connect with your school.



Letter to Families: Lifeline Implementation


To Our (Grade Level) Parents and Guardians:


As you may know, suicide is one of the top three causes of death for young people ages ten through twenty-four. Because we at Olympia School District take the safety and well-being of our students very seriously, we are planning on providing our (insert grade level)-grade students with some basic information about youth suicide and, more importantly, teaching them what to do if they are worried about themselves or a friend.


We set strict standards for the suicide-prevention programs that we have investigated:


  • They needed to show their effectiveness through research.
  • They needed to send accurate messages about suicide that are grade-level appropriate.
  • They needed to emphasize the importance of help-seeking behavior.


We also recognized that a program needed to be comprehensive. We are a school community, and as such, we care about the welfare of all our members. We know we couldn’t teach our students that it’s okay to ask for help if everyone in the community—administrators, faculty, staff, and parents/guardians—didn’t know what to do if a student approached them as a trusted adult to talk about this sensitive topic.


Lifelines Prevention, the program we have selected, exceeds these criteria. Because research has demonstrated that programs presented only once have little lasting impact, the Lifelines Prevention curriculum is designed to be delivered in four forty- to forty-five-minute modules that reinforce messages about help-seeking. The interactive curriculum teaches basic information about potential warning signs for suicide, but its emphasis is on what to do if a student is worried about either themselves or a friend.


And Lifelines Prevention doesn’t stop in the classroom. It includes resources for our administrators to help us assess our ability to ensure student safety in a variety of situations. The program also includes training for our resource and support staff, the members of our crisis intervention team, and our faculty. As parents and guardians, you will also have an opportunity to attend a meeting to hear more about the Lifelines Prevention program.


We encourage you to attend and to ask questions to learn more about this resource, which we believe will enhance the competence of all members of our school community to provide a safer environment for our students.


With this letter, you will find an opt-out form if you do not give your child permission to participate in these lessons. Please return the form back to school with your student if you do not want your child to participate in the Lifelines Curriculum.


If you wish to request an interpreter to participate in any part of this process, please contact your school office, or, the district Teaching & Learning office at (360) 596-8540.

With kindest regards,

(Teacher name)



Only complete if you want your child to opt-out of the lifelines curriculum





By signing this opt-out form, I do not give my child permission to participate in the Lifelines Curriculum.