August 10, 2022

Hope Squad

Components
  • Positive Youth Development
  • Positive, Safe, and Supportive School Climates
  • Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention
Resource Types
  • Intervention

What is the program?

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer suicide intervention program. Hope Squad members are nominated by their classmates as trustworthy peers and then trained by adult advisors. The program aims to: (a) create a safe school environment; (b) promote connectedness; (c) support anti-bullying; (d) encourage mental wellness; (e) reduce mental health stigma; and (f) prevent substance misuse. Hope Squad members are trained to be aware of their peers and watch for warning signs. The learn to show empathy to their peers, listen without judgment, and how to connect them to trusted adults. 

Who is the program for?

Hope Squads have been implemented at elementary and secondary levels within grades 4 to 12.

What outcomes does the program produce?

  • Increase in awareness of suicide warning signs
  • Increase in awareness of resources for help related to suicide risk
  • Increase in student referrals for suicide concern
  • Increase in referral of high-risk students who received intervention aligned with risk

What is the evidence?

Wright-Berryman, J., Hudnall, G., Hopkins, R., & Bledsoe, C. (2018). Hope squads: Peer-to-peer suicide prevention in schools. Children & Schools40(2), 125-126. https://doi.org/10.1093/cs/cdy005

This report documents evaluation outcomes gathered by surveying students involved in Hope Squads at the beginning and end of an academic year. Within person analyses showed statistically significant increases in perceived self-efficacy in crisis response, understanding of resources to support a suicidal peer, and increased knowledge on how to respond to a suicidal peer.

Wright-Berryman, J., Hudnall, G., Bledsoe, C., & Lloyd, M. (2019). Suicide concern reporting among Utah youths served by a school-based peer-to-peer prevention program. Children & Schools41(1), 35-44. https://doi.org/10.1093/cs/cdy026

This evaluation examined suicide concern referrals within 41 school districts implementing Hope Squads. The evaluation found the number of school suicide-related contacts grew from 80 to 673 over the four-year period. Twenty-four percent of all contacts were directly reported by a Hope Squad member. A greater proportion of students referred by Hope Squad members resulted hospitalization (14%), suggesting higher risk.

How is the program implemented?

Schools select a Hope Squad Advisor who is responsible for implementation. The advisor will receive training (online, virtual, or in-person) on how to effectively implement the program and maintain program fidelity.

Who can implement the program?

Any teacher, administrator, staff member or parent can be trained as a Hope Squad advisor. The developer recommends selecting two to three individuals to act as advisors.

What are the costs and commitments associated with becoming trained in this program?

Please contact the program for the most recent costs and commitments, as these may change.

Costs range between $3,000 (elementary) and $6,000 (high school) and include Hope Squad student curricula and workbooks, parent manuals, communication materials, monthly webinars and support materials, and more. Costs can be paid one-time to support a 3- to 4-year implementation phase or paid year to year (range of $1,000 to $1,800 annual cost). Training costs for virtual or online training are $300 per person. Following implementation, there is an annual membership fee of $180 (elementary) to $500 (middle/high) that includes continual updates of curricula and training materials. 

What resources are useful for understanding or implementing the program?

Rating: Promising Practice

Secondary components: Positive Youth Development; Early Mental Health Prevention and Intervention

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