History

Sources of Strength was developed in North Dakota in 1998 by founder Mark LoMurray, in partnership with rural communities and several Northern Plains tribes. From 2000 to 2004, through a statewide collaborative effort involving the North Dakota Adolescent Suicide Prevention Task Force, Mental Health America of North Dakota, and the North Dakota Department of Health, the program trained approximately 7,500 teens and young adults. While not statistically significant the project showed very encouraging reductions of teen fatalities and reductions in 3 of 4 suicide markers in North Dakota’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

In 2005, the American Association of Public Health, epidemiology section, awarded the project their national Public Health Practice Award. In 2006, Sources of Strength partnered with Peter Wyman, Ph.D, University of Rochester in New York and C. Hendricks Brown, Ph.D., University of Miami to begin a community research partnership and conduct a randomized trial with 18 high schools in Georgia, New York, and North Dakota. This research project showed results demonstrating that adult supported Peer Leaders could have a significant impact across an entire student population; increasing positive perceptions of adult support for suicidal youth and the acceptability of seeking help (see our Evidence Based page for the detailed outcomes of the study). This study was published in the fall of 2010 in The American Journal of Public Health. In 2010, the partnership began a 6-year randomized trial using Sources of Strength with more than 40 high schools to measure the impact of 1,500 peer leaders on approximately 15,000 adolescents; this ongoing study is being funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as part of the National Peer Leadership Study.

In 2009 Sources of Strength was listed on the National Best Practices Registry by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). In 2011 Sources of Strength
was listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), the gold standard of prevention programs in the United States. 

SOURCES OF STRENGTH ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Since 2006, Sources of Strength has been implemented in urban, rural, and tribal settings. Programs are currently running in a number of states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota,Wisconsin and Wyoming, as well as in Washington, DC. It also has been implemented with the Salmon River Tribe, Spirit Lake Nation, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Three Affiliated Tribes, Tohono O’odham Nation, Turtle Mountain Nation, and White Mountain Apache Nation, along with several Canadian First Nations. 

 

In addition Sources of Strength has begun a comprehensive partnership to bring the program to schools and communities throughout Canada, and continues to discuss opportunities to bring Sources of Strength to countries around the globe, including Uganda and Australia. Sources of Strength is presently partnering with hundreds of middle and high schools across the country, Universities large and small, numerous LGBTQ centers and organizations, multiple cultural community centers, The YMCA, faith-based groups, detention centers, the military and much much more. It has truly been an exciting time of growth and development as Sources of Strength has transitioned from a grass roots organization to an international best practice program.