SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center has added At-Risk for High School Educators to its Best Practice Registry for suicide prevention programs. At-Risk is an online interactive training simulation designed to prepare teachers to identify, approach, and refer students exhibiting signs psychological distress including depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Users assume the role of a high school teacher and engage in simulated role-play conversations with emotionally responsive student avatars exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
The virtual students are capable of visually and verbally expressing emotions in reaction to users’ decisions during the conversation, effectively replicating real life interactions. Users learn motivational interviewing techniques such as framing open-ended questions and using reflective listening to effectively broach the topic of psychological distress, motivate the at-risk student to seek help, and avoid common pitfalls, such as attempting to counsel the student or diagnose the problem. Texas and New York have already adopted this program to train over 70,000 educators in their states. You can read more about this announcement here, and you can view a narrated walkthrough here.