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What is Sources of Strength?

"Sources of Strength is the first suicide prevention program involving peer leaders to enhance protective factors associated with reducing suicide at the school population level." - American Journal of Public Health

Sources of Strength is the only evidence-based model that engages youth as peer leaders, and school staff as adult allies in the implementation of intentional campaigns to foster belonging, hope, and connection. Rather than a focus on reducing negative outcomes, SOS focuses on building desired states of being.

It is most commonly implemented in rural, urban and suburban middle schools and high schools, but has been adapted for a variety of populations and cultures. Previous successful implementations have included: universities and community colleges, juvenile justice facilities, LGBTQ+ drop-in centers, cultural centers, Latino/a groups, native/tribal groups and more.

How is it implemented?

Peer Leader and Adult Advisor trainings are facilitated separately and can be completed in one day or held on separate, preferably back-to-back, days.
 Peer Leaders and Adult Advisors
 will develop positive messaging campaigns of hope, help, and strength that will take place throughout the school year. All schools implementing the SOS program will have the opportunity to participate in a statewide community of practice, connecting schools from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania identifying successes and challenges. Youth MOVE PA will provide ongoing support to all schools implementing SOS by offering additional training and educational opportunities. 


What do participating schools receive?

$1,000 stipend for Sources of Strength messaging campaign materials

Ongoing technical support from Youth Move PA

Ongoing technical support from Sources of Strength national staff

When does this start?

Youth Move PA will start rolling out Sources of Strength in PA middle schools and high schools for the 2023-2024 school year.


SOS Peer Leader Training at Somerset CTC


SOS Team leading the activity "Walk Around Cool"

SOS Peer Leader Training at Sunbury 5-Star Program


STRENGTH-BASED

Sources of Strength employs a radically strength-based approach to Suicide Prevention. Turning the traditional practice of identifying risk factors and warning signs on its head, Sources of Strength focuses on developing protective factors, using a model that is innovative, interactive, and radically strength-based. Using an active learning model, incorporating art, storytelling, small group sharing and games, Sources of Strength explores the eight protective factors, depicted in the wheel of strength, to develop resilient individuals and communities

UP-STREAM

Most prevention work is actually crisis-driven intervention. Our primary mission is to move upstream in the prevention cycle. We work to build resilience, increase connection, change unhealthy norms around help-seeking, break down codes of secrecy and silence, and teach healthy coping strategies to ultimately prevent the very onset of suicidality. With a comprehensive model of upstream prevention, we can impact a wide variety of issues beyond suicide alone, including substance abuse, bullying, dating violence, and truancy. We are not just committed to keeping people alive, but to helping them live healthy and full lives.



PEER LED

In the same way that a cold spreads through a classroom, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs spread through a social network. Sources of Strength utilizes the power of peer social networks to spread messages of Hope, Help and Strength throughout entire communities. Sources of Strength is peer led, but we don’t train Peer Leaders to be “junior psychologists” or peer counselors; we empower them to leverage their social influence as an agent of change in their school. Ultimately, a Peer Leader serves as the “patient zero” of an epidemic of health, a contagion of strength, throughout their school or community. 

EVIDENCE-BASED

Sources of Strength is one of the most rigorously evaluated upstream prevention programs in the world. Peer Leader teams are active across the United States, Canada, Australia, and many American Indian/Alaska Native and First Nations communities. We are training new teams, in new communities, every year! While we expand, we are committed to our research partnerships that have qualified us on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) since 2012.

Program outcomes have shown: 1

  • Increase in connectedness to adults
  • Increase in school engagement
  • Increase in likelihood to refer a suicidal friend to an adult
  • Increase in positive perceptions of adult support
  • Increased acceptability of seeking help
  • Largest increases amongst students with a history of suicidal ideation

1 Wyman, P. et al. (2010). An outcome evaluation of the Sources of Strength suicide prevention program delivered by adolescent peer leaders in high schools. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 100: 1653-1661. 

RESEARCH PARTNERSHIPS INCLUDE:

  • University of Rochester
  • Stanford University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Manitoba


  • Australian National University
  • Black Dog Institute
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • Centers for Disease Control


Interested in bringing Sources of Strength to your middle school or high school?

Contact us at ympa@youthmovepa.org


This program is funded through the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS).

Youth MOVE PA

ympa@youthmovepa.org

2551 Walnut Street

Harrisburg, PA 17103

Office Phone:  717.221.1022

  
  




Youth Move PA exists in partnership with 
parent organization, PMHCA. Learn more.


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