The effect of school safety tip lines on youth suicide prevention
Hossain, Md Tahmeed
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Suicidal deaths of high school-aged youths (14-to-18-year-olds) have almost doubled over the past decade. School safety tip lines, an anonymous reporting method that enables students to submit tips about their suicidal friends and classmates, have emerged as a potential solution to reduce youth suicide. Using data from the CDC's Multiple Causes of Death data for the period 1999-2018, this is the first study to formally investigate the effect of introducing school safety tip lines on youth suicide prevention. My primary identification strategy is a difference-in-differences (DID) method that exploits variation in the timing of the adoption of the safety tip lines across states. I also employ a synthetic control method (SCM) as an alternative identification strategy to compare suicide rates in Colorado and Michigan (early adopters of tip line mobile applications and websites) to non-adopting states before and after the adoption of tip lines. Despite the existence of anecdotal evidence of tip lines saving many high-school students from committing suicides, I find little evidence that tip lines have reduced completed suicides among 14-to-18-year-old youths.