GPMS School Counseling Department

Fall Newsletter

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Signs Of Suicide Prevention Program (SOS)

The Signs of Suicide Prevention Program is a program that Prince William County Schools uses when proactively addressing the issue of depression awareness and suicide prevention. The program has proven to be successful at increasing help seeking by students concerned about themselves or a friend and is the only school-based suicide prevention program listed by SAMHSA for its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression, while reducing suicide attempts. In a randomized control study, the SOS high school program showed a reduction in self-reported suicide attempts by 40% (BMC Public Health, July 2007).

Our goals in participating in this program are straightforward:

  • to help our students understand that depression is a treatable illness
  • to explain that suicide is a preventable tragedy that often occurs as a result of untreated depression
  • to provide students training in how to identify serious depression and potential suicidality in themselves or a friend
  • to impress upon youth that they can help themselves or a friend by taking the simple step of talking to a responsible adult about their concerns
  • to help students know whom in the school they can turn to for help, if they need it.

The entire GPMS Student Service Department will be presenting this program to our 7th graders, during the month of January 2020. We will be sending out more specific information just before winter break.

During the month of December we will be going into the 6th and 8th grade classrooms, presenting a Guidance lesson on Coping Strategies.

If you wish to review the Signs of Suicide program video you may access it by clicking on the link below. Click the link that says "Parent Portal".

Username: pwcs-par

Password: screening


Adolescence is a time when kids often do not open up as much with their parents. Some tips to get the conversation flowing:

  • Ask open-ended questions such as "What was fun at school today?"
  • Don't rush to solve their problems. Instead, ask your child what he or she thinks would help a situation.
  • Be available and make sure your child knows it. A simple "I'll be at my desk if you decide you want to talk later" may help.
  • Get in the car and drive! Children often find it easier to talk more openly when they do not have to look their parents/guardians in the eye. The relaxed atmosphere makes it easier for some kids to open up.

Oh How Things Have Changed

YOU are Making a Difference!

I'm sure some of us can remember, back before computers and cell phones, a time when "bad words" were not said on basic cable television, and shows that were considered to be "violent or risque" did not air on television before 7 p.m. After all, children were likely to be in bed at 8 so that they were well-rested for the following school day, and nobody wanted to expose children to such intense situations; after all, we thought that they were too young to be able to process what they might see and hear.

At the Park our mission is to foster a climate that is safe, caring, and inclusive to all. With your support, we believe that we can be even more successful in this mission. Please feel free to reach out to me or your students grade level counselor by using the goggle form below.

Lisa B. Xantus, Director of the School Counseling Department