Research & Evaluation
As part of our commitment to a standard of excellence, LivingWorks Education encourages the rigorous scientific evaluation of our programs. Results have consistently shown that LivingWorks programs increase participants’ knowledge, skills, and confidence, while a major study recently demonstrated that they also contribute to improved outcomes for those at risk of suicide.
This page provides a partial list of original research and research reviews of LivingWorks programs. More studies will be added as they become available.
Shannonhouse L, Lin Y-W D, Shaw K, Wanna R, Porter M (2017): Suicide intervention training for college staff: Program evaluation and intervention skill measurement. Journal of American College Health.
This study examined the impact of ASIST training for college staff including faculty, counselors, administrators, and other support personnel. The results showed improvement in both self-assessed competencies and objective measures using the SIRI-2 scale compared to a control group. Areas of improvement included suicide intervention skills, attitudes toward suicide, knowledge of suicide, and comfort, competence, and confidence in responding to individuals at risk. The authors wrote: “these results agree with others that show ASIST increases SI- [suicide intervention] skills.”
Shannonhouse L, Lin Y-W D, Shaw K, Porter M (2017). Suicide Intervention Training for K-12 Schools: A Quasi-Experimental Study on ASIST. Journal of Counseling and Development.
This study found that ASIST-trained school staff, including teachers and counsellors, saw improved knowledge and competencies on an objective scale (SIRI-2) compared to a control group. The areas of improvement included suicide intervention skills, attitudes toward suicide, knowledge of suicide, and comfort, competence, and confidence in responding to individuals at risk. The authors wrote that their findings provide “support for the use of ASIST in schools, particularly those in rural areas with limited access to mental health services.”
Ashwood, J S, Briscombe B, Ramchand R, May L, Burnam M A (2015). Analysis of the Benefits and Costs of CalMHSA’s Investment in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).
Conducted by researchers from the RAND Corporation, this cost-benefit analysis found that California’s implementation of ASIST will significantly reduce suicide attempts, deaths, and associated costs for years to come. Drawing on a wide cross-section of data, the research illustrates how ASIST training is a cost-effective way to save lives on a large scale.
Gould M S, Cross W, Pisani A R, Munfakh J L, Kleinman M (2013). Impact of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.
This Randomized Controlled Study found that callers who talked to a crisis line counselor trained in ASIST were statistically less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful than callers who talked to a crisis line counselor trained in a method other than ASIST. On the basis of this study, ASIST was listed on the United States NREPP (National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices) under the new, stricter guidelines.
SAMHSA and ICF/MACRO (2010). Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training: Trainee Experiences, Recommendations, and Post-Training Behavior.
This qualitative study of ASIST training participants found increased self-efficacy, heightened awareness, improved communication skills, increased information sharing and increased interventions due to ASIST training.
Griesbach D, Russell P, Dolev R, Lardner C (2008). The Use and Impact of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) in Scotland: An Evaluation.
This Scottish study of ASIST found increased knowledge, helping attitudes, skills and interventions in ASIST-trained caregivers in addition to broad reductions stigma and increased suicide prevention awareness within communities and organizations.
McAuliffe N and Perry L (2007). Making it Safer: A Health Centre’s Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Psychiatric Quarterly.
This study demonstrated that ASIST training in a large community hospital contributed to improved clinical outcomes for consumers. Outcomes associated with ASIST training included increased identification of those at risk for suicide and a corresponding reduction in hospital admissions as hospital staff were better able to assess risk and provide appropriate alternatives to hospitalization.
LivingWorks Education Inc (2013). Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training: Evidence in Support of the ASIST 11 Program.
This review provides evidence in support of the rationale, content, teaching and learning processes of ASIST training, particularly as it applies to ASIST 11.
Rodgers P (2010). Review of the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Program (ASIST): Rationale, Evaluation Results, and Directions for Future Research.
This review compiles results from 20 evaluations of ASIST from five different countries. The review found that ASIST training consistently increased knowledge, attitudes, skills and intervention behaviors of participants.
The purpose of this paper is to outline the rationale, conceptual framework, and evidence informing safeTALK.
Kaplan, G. (2018). A Formative Evaluation of the safeTALK Training in Manitoba.
This study assessed the impact of safeTALK training across nine Manitoba schools, with participants including teachers, students, parents, and support staff. Findings indicated that safeTALK improved participants' self-assessed abilities to recognize when someone had thoughts of suicide and take appropriate steps in connecting them to safety. The study looked for iatrogenic safety effects as a result of training and found none, indicating that safeTALK posed no danger to any participants. A smaller follow-up study also looked at interventions, finding that a plurality of safeTALK participants reported carrying out an intervention based on their training.
Robinson J, Bailey E, Spittal M, Pirkis J, Gould M (2016). Universal Suicide Prevention in Young People: An Evaluation of the safeTALK Program in Alice Springs High Schools.
This study was conducted by researchers from Orygen, Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and New York’s Columbia University. It examined the impact of safeTALK training for high school students in Australia, finding increases in knowledge about suicide, confidence in talking about issues related to suicide, willingness to talk about suicide, and likelihood of offering and seeking help. The study also found that safeTALK was safe for the school students and that it had no ill effects on their mental health.
Niagara Region (2015). Evaluation of safeTALK Training in a Convenience Sample of 500 Niagara Health Region Residents, Health Professionals and Volunteers.
Conducted by the Niagara Suicide Prevention Coalition and Distress Centre Niagara, this study discovered that over 90% of participants felt “mostly prepared” or “well prepared” to ask someone about suicide after attending safeTALK, whereas less than 50% felt this way beforehand. In summary, the researchers wrote: “The resounding feedback was that those undertaking the training found it extremely useful if not for themselves, then for others (especially young people and general lay groups).”
McKay K, Hawgood J, Kavalidou K, Kolves K, O'Gorman J, De Leo D (2012). A Review of Operation Life Suicide Awareness Workshops: Report to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Conducted by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, among others, this study found “…real and substantial improvements following safeTALK in (participants’) perceptions of their capabilities in dealing with a person who may be considering suicide and that these improvements did not deteriorate over a three-month period” (p. 43). Participants included veterans, veteran family members and veteran support providers.
Eynan R (2011). Preventing Suicides in the Toronto Subway System: A Program Evaluation.
From the University of Toronto, this dissertation examined the impact of safeTALK and one other training program among transit workers, including constables, train operators, supervisors and others. The author found increased “knowledge of suicide and suicidal behavior, enhanced positive attitudes toward the suicidal individual, suicide intervention, and improved intervention skills” (p. ii) through the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods.
Mellanby RJ, Hudson NP, Allister R, Bell CE, Else RW, Gunn-Moore DA, Byrne C, Straiton S, Rhind SM (2010). Evaluation of suicide awareness programmes delivered to veterinary undergraduates and academic staff.
Published in the journal Veterinary Record, this study found that safeTALK increased the likelihood that veterinary students would recognize signs of suicide risk, ask about suicide, and connect someone at risk with help.
McLean J, Schinkel M, Woodhouse A, Pynnonen A, McBryde L (2007). Evaluation of the Scottish safeTALK Pilot.
Conducted by researchers from the Scottish Development Centre for Mental Health, this study focused on the use of safeTALK among a variety of audiences including mental health, physical health, education, law enforcement and corrections. The study found high levels of satisfaction and increased skills and confidence to intervene with someone at risk for suicide.
The first independent clinical evaluation of suicide to Hope is currently underway.
Out of over 900 participants, 92% of the said that suicide to Hope gave them greater hope for success in working with people who have suicide experience, while 91% said suicide to Hope improved their knowledge and skills for working with those who have suicide experience.
suicide to Hope is an evidence-informed program developed in accordance with Rothman's six-stage social R&D model. Here are the sources consulted in the development of suicide to Hope:
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One of the ways we calculate our impact is by estimating the number of interventions carried out by people trained in our programs based on the best available data. You can find some of these impact estimates in our LivingWorks overview. Here is the methodology that we use to provide these estimates:
Determining the number of interventions: This figure is based on Condron et al.’s finding that ASIST-trained school staff carried out an average of 0.62 interventions resulting in further care for the intervention recipient within three months of the workshop. The same study found that safeTALK-trained school staff carried out an average of 0.39 suicide alert interventions within three months of training. The study by Condron et al. appears in Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 45 (4) August 2015, p. 461-76. To account for periods longer than three months, we multiply the intervention rates. For example, to estimate the number of interventions over a six-month period, we double the three-month rates provided by Condron et al. This assumes school intervention rates are reflective of the general population, and assumes no decrease in the frequency of interventions as time goes on within the first year of training.
Determining the number of attempts averted: This number is based on SAMHSA’s 2013 national survey, comparing the number of American adults who expressed suicide thoughts in the past year (9.3 million) against those who attempted suicide (1 million). As 1 million is 14 percent of 9.3 million, the result suggests that approximately 14 percent of people with suicide thoughts progress to attempting suicide. This assumes that adult American suicide thought-to-attempt ratios are indicative of the general world population. The information can be found here. Accordingly, we inferred that because 14 percent of people with suicide thoughts would progress to a suicide attempt, 14 percent of interventions resulted in an averted suicide attempt.
We continue to monitor studies on the impact of our programs to improve our methodology and refine our estimates.
We encourage rigorous evaluation of our programs. If you are interested in additional evaluation information or are considering carrying out an evaluation of your own, we invite you to read over the documents listed below and then contact us for more details.
- Evidence in Support of the ASIST 11 Program (PDF / 172 KB)
- ASIST Experiences and Recommendations (PDF / 989 KB)
- Review of ASIST (PDF / 1.8 MB)
- The Use and Impact of ASIST in Scotland (PDF / 1.5 MB)
- Gould Study Summary (PDF / 1.9 MB)
- Review of the Operation Life Suicide Awareness Workshops (PDF / 2.4 MB)
- Evaluation of the Scottish safeTALK pilot (PDF / 351 KB)
- safeTALK Manitoba Evaluation Highlights Report (PDF / 122 KB)
- SafeTALK Manitoba Evaluation Full Report (PDF / 1.5 MB)