Project SOAR: A Training Program to Increase School Counselors' Knowledge and Confidence Regarding Suicide Prevention and Intervention



ABSTRACT: School counselors are often the lead individuals in school suicide prevention programs. All school counselors in Dallas, Texas, receive training through Project SOAR (Suicide, Options, Awareness, and Relief), a suicide prevention program. This study assessed Dallas school counselors' knowledge of suicidal risk factors and perceived ability to initiate appropriate steps when confronted with a suicidal student. A two-page, 44-item survey was distributed to all Dallas school counselors attending a mandatory meeting in spring 1999. A total of 186 school counselors (75%) responded. Most had been a school counselor for less than 10 years and one-half received initial SOAR training less than four years ago. The majority strongly agreed that they could recognize suicidal warning signs, assess a student's risk for suicide, and offer support to a suicidal student. In addition, most knew the intervention steps to take when a student assessed at high suicidal risk. When compared to school counselors nationwide, these counselors reported increased confidence in identifying students at suicidal risk.