Helping Children and Teens Overcome Suicidal Events

Helping Children and Teens Overcome Suicidal Events

Suicide Prevention and Resilience at Children’s (SPARC)

SPARC was developed to help adolescents who’ve had a recent suicidal event – such as worsening suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt – and need intensive care and support.

SPARC is the only program in Texas that uses a combination of teen skills group therapy, multifamily therapy, individual therapy and family therapy. This helps families and teens:

  • Manage difficult emotions and stress
  • Improve communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ask for and receive support
  • Develop lifelong coping skills for managing intense emotions

Our outcomes include teens reporting decreased symptoms of depression and lower rates of suicidal thoughts, before and after treatment. Outcomes also include high satisfaction with the program and reduced rates of suicidal behavior.

A multidimensional program that includes the whole family

Teens and families attend the SPARC program two or three times a week, for four to six weeks (based on clinical need).

The program includes:

  • Teen skills group therapy: In small groups, your teen will receive support from peers and therapists. Teens learn and practice skills for tolerating distress, managing mood and problem-solving.
  • Multifamily group therapy: Families come together to learn and practice skills designed to enhance effective communication, such as asking for and offering support.
  • Individual therapy and family therapy: We’ll help your family develop a safety plan. The plan will include components like warning signs, coping skills, sources of social support and emergency numbers. You and your child will also learn strategies to change thought patterns and improve mood. And you’ll practice the best ways to express feelings and needs, to lessen conflict at home.
  • Extra support through medication management and referrals: Our psychiatrists review any medicines your child is taking. They can also recommend and prescribe medicines that may help treat conditions like depression.
  • Recreation therapy: Engaging in pleasant and fun activities can be one effective way to improve mood. Our recreation therapists use physical activity, art and music to help teens unwind, connect and feel better.

Teen suicide prevention treatment that works

Nationally, between 12% and 31% of people who attempt suicide will try again. The SPARC program teaches skills that have been proven in research studies and in clinical care to decrease depression symptoms and improve suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Teen suicide prevention program that fits your schedule

We know that life is busy. We’ve designed this program to allow you to work and your child to attend school while participating in SPARC. The program offers a variety of scheduled groups, and participants can be seen in person and virtually. And if those don’t work well, we’ll find other ways to make sure your child gets the care they need.

The right suicide prevention treatment at the right time

Research shows that the highest risk for suicide is during the month after an attempt. At Children’s Health℠, we provide several hours of therapy two or three times a week, giving teens more support and treatment when they most need it.

Connecting you with teen suicide prevention experts

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough mental health resources for children in our area – or our nation. That’s why we share our innovative suicide prevention model and research with the larger community.

Grant money and donor funds have allowed us to adapt the SPARC program so it can be offered at three Metrocare Services health centers in the Dallas area. And through our affiliation with UT Southwestern, we train medical students, psychiatry fellows and psychology interns in suicide prevention methods, so they can use them to help more teens.

Meet the Care Team