Office of Crisis Services and Suicide Prevention

Welcome to the Shield of Care™Curriculum

The Shield of CareTM is a groundbreaking suicide prevention curriculum designed specifically for staffs that work in our nation's juvenile justice facilities. This curriculum is the culmination of three years of development. The curriculum is based on evaluation data, best practice literature, our experience providing community suicide gatekeeper training in Tennessee's juvenile justice facilities, input of juvenile justice staff, and our many partners. (Please see the trainer's manual for a listing of our local and national partners) All materials are free and available for download following the overview of the Shield of CareTM.

To access the webpage, with curriculum and materials for downloading, please go to:




Program Description

Developed by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) and partners, Shield of Care is an 8-hour, evidence-informed curriculum that teaches juvenile justice staff strategies to prevent suicide in their correctional facility environment. The Shield of Care suicide prevention model (S-Plan) is unique because it is tailored to the juvenile justice environment and emphasizes a system-focused model of preventing suicide. Specifically, the Shield of Care model does the following: (1) Emphasizes that policy, connectedness to youth, and communication between staff are essential system-level elements of suicide prevention; (2) Teaches staff specific steps of effective suicide intervention (Seeing, Protecting, Listening, Assessing, Networking); and (3) Provides opportunities for staff to reflect on internal policies for suicide prevention, discuss strategies for overcoming potential barriers, and plan how to take action in their specific facility context.

Shield of Care was developed in the following stages: (1) The need for a juvenile justice-specific curriculum was established through consultation with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC); (2) The Shield of Care model was developed by the Tennessee Lives Count (TLC) grant team using available research literature and TLC evaluation data; (3) Contracted partners (e.g. curriculum designer, videographer) worked with the TLC team to develop curriculum materials; (4) Content experts in suicidology and juvenile justice reviewed the curriculum; and (5) The final version was pilot-tested, yielding favorable program outcomes.


At the end of Shield of Strength training, participants should have increased:
1. Knowledge of suicide prevention strategies, including risk and protective factors.
2. Self-efficacy to prevent suicide.
3. Suicide prevention skills.

System-wide, there will be increased:
1. Connectedness among staff and with youth.
2. Suicide prevention communication.
3. Policy and procedure knowledge.
4. Self-efficacy to work through facility-level barriers to suicide prevention.

Implementation Essentials

  • Juvenile justice settings that use the Shield of Care program should have established protocols for addressing youth who may be at risk for suicide. Administrators and staff should be aware of the protocols. Trainers need to have mental health backgrounds and be willing to administer the evaluation.

Contact Information

Lygia Williams, MA, Principal Investigator

Tennessee Lives Count

Tennessee Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Voice: 615-253-5078

Fax: 615-253-5080




The Shield of Care training packet, including program manual, PowerPoint slides, and videos, is available online at no charge ( Training for trainers is available for qualifying institutions in Tennessee at no charge. Those in other states should contact Lygia Williams.

First Posted

Feb 10 2013

*The content of practices listed in Section III (Adherence to Standards) of the SPRC/AFSP Best Practices Registry address specific goals of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and have been reviewed by a panel of three suicide prevention experts and found to meet standards of accuracy, safety, and programmatic guidelines. Practices were not reviewed for evidence of effectiveness. Additional information about the Best Practices Registry can be found at

The Best Practices Registry is supported by a grant (1 U79 SM059945) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). No official endorsement by SAMHSA or DHHS for the information in this document is intended or should be inferred.