Zippy's Friends really works!
The original impetus for Zippy’s Friends came from the suicide prevention movement, with the aim of enabling children to find positive coping skills so that they wouldn’t feel the need to resort to desperate measures such as self-harm or suicide. Partnership for Children does not promote Zippy’s Friends as a suicide prevention programme, as it was felt that it would be impossible to demonstrate a link between the two. However, recent results from a Brazilian study are very encouraging.
Estimated rates of self-harm are around 20% in children and young people in Brazil, similar to much of the developed world. The local authority in Luiz Alves in the state of Santa Catarina has run Zippy’s Friends in the city since 2009, and decided to look at the medical records of over 1,500 children aged 7 -17 to see whether the programme had had positive effects. To their surprise, they found there was not a single record of self-harm or attempted suicide amongst this group.
So impressed was the city with these results that, in addition to Zippy’s Friends, it has adopted Passport: Skills for Life for grades 6 – 9 in four schools in the city, to reinforce the learning of Zippy’s Friends. As Rosane, the local coordinator says, this should embed healthy coping skills in the young people, which will benefit ‘not only that person, but also the family and society’.