Suicide Prevention And Resilience in Children (SPARC)


According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents and young adults between ages 10 and 24. Children’s Health℠ Dallas offers Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) for youth with suicidal behaviors. Our Suicide Prevention and Resilience (SPARC) IOP services targets risk factors.

Why Children’s Health℠?

Children’s Health Dallas is the nation’s eighth-largest pediatric health care provider. For more than 100 years, Children’s Health℠ has been dedicated to making life better for children afflicted with complex physical and mental conditions that require optimal care.

We offer one of the most comprehensive specialty programs available for children and teens that need psychiatric and psychological services. Our program offers group therapy, individual therapy and parent and family therapy. Your teen’s participation in the program will depend on her individual needs.

If you think your child needs help, our teen suicide prevention programs are designed especially for people his age.

Warning Signs

It’s important for parents and other family members to recognize the signs of suicide and make sure that teens get help. The best prevention is recognizing the warning signs and then seeking help for your child right away.

Your child could be at risk if any of these signs are exhibited:

  • Talking about wanting to die or commit suicide
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Searching online or around your home for ways to commit suicide
  • Talking to friends about ways to commit suicide
  • Being preoccupied with death, as demonstrated in conversation or writings
  • Showing raging anger or wild mood swings
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Drastic alterations in sleep patterns
  • Withdrawing from others

Take these warnings seriously. If your child appears to be in crisis, don’t hesitate to take him to a mental healthcare professional or even an emergency room. Psychiatrists, psychologists and suicide prevention teams are specially trained to help your child learn to cope with the emotions and stressors that can lead to thoughts of hopelessness or suicide. Some teens are treated as inpatients; others meet weekly or more often with a psychologist.

During the crisis, it’s important that you remember this: If your child feels desperate or depressed, it is from a combination of factors and not a reflection on your parenting.

SPARC Program

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) at Children’s Health℠ are available for youth with suicidal behaviors. IOP is less intensive than hospitalization or day treatment and is more appropriate for the young person who may need more than weekly treatment.

IOP goals include providing patients and families with knowledge, resources and support to assist them with successful functioning in everyday life.

The Suicide Prevention and Resilience at Children's Health℠ (SPARC) IOP services are provided at the Chase Bank Building Specialty Services. SPARC is an evidence-based program designed to target risk factors associated with suicide in teens. Patients participate in group therapy three hours per day, twice a week, and attend individual and/or family therapy in conjunction with IOP.

Parents also attend a parent group, one hour per week, to learn the skills their teens are learning in group medication management and other services. Length of time in IOP is based on individual need and is usually between 3 to 6 weeks. Patients attending the SPARC IOP are referred from their current treatment providers (psychiatrist or therapist).

About Teen Suicide

Young people suffering depression or other mental disorders are more likely to attempt suicide. Teens that use alcohol or drugs are especially prone to have suicidal thoughts. 

Other risk factors include:

  • Family history of suicide
  • Stress
  • Inability to cope with loss

But not every child who has an increased risk of suicide follows through. However, access to methods to commit suicide, such as firearms or drugs, increases risk more.