AFSP’s signature prevention program, the ISP is a web-based method for anonymously connecting people at risk for suicide to a counselor who provides information and support for help-seeking.
The ISP is designed to be used in a variety of settings, including colleges and workplaces, and can be adapted for outreach to at-risk groups in the population at large.
The ISP provides a brief online questionnaire to help the user to identify depression or other mental health problems. The questionnaire is housed on a secure website, which is customized for each participating site. Those who complete and submit the questionnaire receive a personalized written response from a counselor, and are encouraged to exchange follow-up messages online with the counselor without having to identify themselves. In cases where the counselor is nearby, users whose responses suggest significant mental health concerns are offered in-person meetings and treatment referrals.
The ISP is based on the following principles:
- Anonymity for the user
- Personalized contact with real counselors
- Interactive engagement between user and counselor
- Responding to the user’s feelings rather than making a diagnosis
- Identifying and resolving the user’s personal barriers to treatment.
The ISP can be adapted to meet the particular needs and circumstances of the setting where it is used. The school or workplace chooses who may use the program, issuing invitations to participate to certain classes or departments, or offering open access through a link, QR code, brochure, or newsletter. The ISP website may be accessed on a smartphone or other mobile device or on a computer.
The ISP is included in the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention maintained by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
The ISP in Colleges and Universities
The ISP was initially developed for colleges and universities and was first implemented at Emory University in 2002. The program is now used by over 60 campuses across the country, many of which have received start-up support from their local AFSP Chapter.
ISP in the Workplace
Drawing on the ISP’s success in college and university settings, AFSP is developing a workplace model for engaging at-risk employees in seeking help. Our first such program is being launched in conjunction with the Peer Support Unit of the Boston Police Department. We are in discussion with a number of other law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and corporations about implementing the program.
The Veterans Self-Check Quiz
In 2009, AFSP partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to adapt the ISP for use by veterans, military services personnel, and their families. The Veterans Self-Check Quiz is designed to ease the entry into the online Veterans Chat service by users in crisis. The Quiz helps users identify and describe their feeling and problems, providing the Chat Counselor a starting point in understanding and more effectively addressing their needs.
The National Football League (NFL) Life Line Self-Check Quiz
In 2012, AFSP partnered with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and other leading experts in crisis counseling and health communications to develop a Self-Check Quiz for current and former NFL players, their families and NFL team and league staff. The Self-Check Quiz program is being implemented in conjunction with the NFL Life Line, a comprehensive crisis intervention program for members of the NFL family.