Seeking reinforcements in the fight against teen suicide, mental-health experts are launching a program in high schools nationwide aimed at encouraging teens to tell an adult if one of their friends confides thoughts of suicide.
The program, which starts in early October at roughly 200 high schools, has a seemingly simple goal: to enable teens to respond to suicide warning signs as competently as someone trained in the Heimlich maneuver would respond to someone who is choking.
"Talking about suicide is both a symptom and also a communication that needs to be taken seriously," said Dr. Douglas Jacobs of Harvard Medical School.
"Young people would respond if they saw someone choking or clutching their chest," Jacobs said. "With someone talking about or showing signs of suicide, they should do the same, and we want to provide them the tools."
Suicide remains the third-leading cause of death for teenagers. According to federal estimates, one of every five high school students has thought seriously about attempting suicide.