About Us

Since its inception in 2001, the goal of the Surviving the Teens® / Suicide Prevention Program at Cincinnati Children’s has been to interrupt and circumvent the causal chain of suicidal behavior, as well as close the gap of services for suicidal children and adolescents in the Cincinnati area.

The program consists of three components: student training, a parent program and gatekeeper training for school staff and community members.

Program Components

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Student training focuses on ways of coping, stressors associated with depression and suicide, and how to access referral sources. The goal is to help students:

  • Find positive ways of coping with the various stressors in life
  • Be able to recognize depression and suicidal behaviors in themselves and in their   peers
  • Respond appropriately to their troubled friends
  • Know where to go for help

Students receive a “Steps to LAST®”  with referral sources, observe videos and participate in lectures, interactive activities and role playing.

The parent program is approximately 1½ hours and offers information about:

  • Depression and suicide
  • Adaptive and maladaptive coping in teens
  • Risk and protective factors
  • Warning signs
  • How to protect teens and connect with them using “Steps to LAST®” 
  • Referral sources
  • Personal stories about depression and suicide

Gatekeeper training for schools and the community varies in length, depending on the needs of the organization and offers similar information as the parent program.

The program has been presented within 34 area schools to students, teachers and parents. Approximately 60,000 teenagers and hundreds of parents and teachers have benefited from the program.

Cathy Strunk, MSN, RN, suicide prevention expert and liaison, developed and implemented a multiclass curriculum in 2001. The name “Surviving the Teens” was incorporated into the program in 2004.

Additional Information

The goals of the Surviving the Teens® / Suicide Prevention Program include helping teens, parents and community members:

  • Recognize stressors that contribute to depression / suicidal behaviors
  • Explain adaptive and maladaptive behaviors in response to these stressors
  • Give signs and symptoms of depression and warning signs and risk factors of suicide
  • Find ways to help depressed / suicidal teens

Information can also be utilized as a teaching tool in health classes and as an adjunct to the in-school program, reducing lecture time and providing more time for discussion, role-plays and interaction with students.

Cincinnati Children’s continues to seek opportunities to expand and fund the program to more schools in hope of impacting a greater number of people about depression and suicide prevention. This program has already been expanded to include churches and other faith-based communities, by offering presentations to parents, teens and those working with children.

For more information, if you would like to volunteer or have the Surviving the Teens program come to your church, school or organization, contact Cathy Strunk, MSN, RN (cathy.strunk@cchmc.org).

History of the Program

The Suicide Prevention Program at Cincinnati Children's began in February 2001 with the support of The J. E. & Z .B. Butler Foundation. Our program expansion is currently being funded by the generosity of 1N5 and the Kohl’s Corporation.

1N5 and the Kohl’s Corporation logos.

The program's goals are to:

  • Interrupt and circumvent the causal chain of suicidal behavior
  • Close the gap of services for suicidal children and adolescents in the Cincinnati area

Cathy Strunk, MSN, RN, Suicide Prevention Expert and Liaison, fully developed and implemented a multi-class curriculum in 2001, which has been presented in dozens of area schools to teenagers. The name Surviving the Teens was proposed for the program by Cathy Strunk in 2004 following a real-life tragedy.

Worksheet for Students

The Division of Psychiatry provides a worksheet for teachers about different stressors, coping mechanisms, depression and suicide to use in health classes.  Read More

Video Interviews

Watch video interviews of parents and teenagers (below) in the Surviving the Teens program who share their experiences with depression and suicide on CET Connect.

Debbie , a mother who lost her son to suicide, talks about signs of depression.

Kathy , a mother, explains how parents can find the words to talk to their children about this issue.

Luke talks about his struggle with depression, his treatment and how he is rebuilding his life.

Sara shares her story and tells us how music and positive thinking helped her work her way back to a more positive place in life.

Max shares his advice for other teens experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts.