From the Principal: Signs of Suicide Screening

Newton South High School will be conducting the Signs of Suicide (SOS) Curriculum and the Brief Screening for Adolescent Depression (BSAD) for your son/daughter’s senior English class on October 14th -20th, 2014.  This program has been used by thousands of schools over the past decade.  It has proven successful at helping students concerned about themselves or a friend. It is the only school-based suicide prevention curriculum listed by SAMSHA in its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression.  The curriculum includes viewing a video, followed by a discussion period.

The goals of the program are straightforward:

  • Help students understand that depression is treatable and assess whether or not they may have some symptoms of depression
  • Train students in identifying serious depression and potential suicidality in themselves or friends
  • Impress upon teens they can help themselves or a friend by taking the simple step of talking to a responsible adult about their concerns.

Following the program we will provide an opportunity for students to take a few minutes to complete a brief screening form.  Mental health counselors from the Newton Public Schools and Riverside will be onsite to speak to any students who may show signs of depression or risk of suicide on the screening form or who express an interest in speaking to someone.  These interviews are usually short (15-20 minutes) and are not considered mental health treatment or counseling nor are they a substitute for a comprehensive mental health evaluation. The meetings help us better understand students’ reactions to the material, and whether they have any experience with depression or thoughts around suicide.  A few students will also be randomly selected for follow-up questions so that we can learn about student response to the program. Parents will be informed if their child meets with a counselor along with any recommendations.

Please return this consent form to your child’s English teacher.  This consent form will allow you to choose from 2 options for your son/daughter’s participation in the program.

1.      Full participation, including viewing the video and participation in in the BSAD screening.  This is the recommended level of participation.

2.      No participation.   This option opts your son/daughter out of the entire program.

If you do not chose either of these options, you acknowledge that your son/daughter will participate in the educational portion only, which includes viewing the video and filling out a card asking if the student wants to talk to someone.  This option does not include the BSAD screening.  Please review the consent form with your son/daughter, sign and return.

If you have any questions about the program please contact Jenn Pontillo at 617-559-6519.   If you are worried about your child/children, please contact their school counselor. Thank you, as always, for your being our partners in this process.


Joel Stembridge, Principal

REMINDER: There is another SOS Parent Info Session on October 15 at 7PM at Newton North. Click here for more info.
The Warning Signs and Symptoms of Depression and Suicidality from Riverside Trauma Center is available here.