Youth Suicide PreventionA listing of resources to help school districts address the need for youth suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, including a model youth suicide prevention policy for local educational agencies (LEAs).
Parents, educators, mental health professionals, and legislators are making a concerted effort to address the critical need to prevent youth suicides in California.
Assembly Bill 2246 (O’Donnell) addressed this issue by requiring LEAs to adopt suicide prevention policies before the beginning of the 2017–18 school year. Chaptered as California Education Code (EC) Section 215, AB 2246 mandates that the Governing Board of any LEA that serves pupils in grades seven to twelve, inclusive, adopt a policy on pupil suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. The policy shall specifically address the needs of high-risk groups, include consideration of suicide awareness and prevention training for teachers, and ensure that a school employee acts only within the authorization and scope of the employee’s credential or license.
While the mandate does not apply to private schools or schools with students below grade seven, we encourage private schools and schools with students below seventh grade to consider adopting a suicide prevention policy as a safety net for all of their students. This is particularly important since suicide is now the second leading cause of death for youth ages thirteen to eighteen and also is a leading cause of death among ten- to-twelve-year olds. Students in earlier grades also are known to consider, attempt, and die by suicide. Research demonstrates that ideation may start as early as pre-school (however, suicide deaths are very rare among children age nine years or younger).
The board policy must be developed in consultation with school and community stakeholders, school-employed mental health professionals, and suicide prevention experts. At a minimum, the board policy must address procedures relating to suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention.
To help LEAs develop their own model policies, the California Department of Education (CDE) has collaborated with mental health professionals, including the Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup, to provide a model. The model policy can be accessed at the link below:
To assist school districts with the concerns about youth suicide, the following resources and publications are available for dealing with suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention (sometimes referred to as "aftermath"). Some sites provide factual data and others contain programs. For more Web information, contact the coordinator for pupil services in your school district or county office of education. Counseling and student support specialists (school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, and school nurses) and local mental health specialists should be consulted for individual student referrals.
Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Schools
This toolkit, based on numerous national and state youth prevention toolkits, focuses on real-life application and was compiled for the Palo Alto Unified School District's Board Policy for suicide prevention.
Fact Sheets on Suicide: Adolescents and Young Adults
The National Adolescent Health Information Center, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, highlights some important research results on suicide. It provides information about the age adolescents are most likely to commit suicide, how gender and race impact adolescents in regard to suicide, and examines the suicide rate trends for adolescents. This Suicide Fact Sheet was published in 2006 and is based on the most current data available.
State Suicide Prevention Plans
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has a listing of states that have suicide prevention plans.
Youth Suicide Prevention School-Based Guide
This resource serves as a guide for schools to use in developing suicide prevention materials, including a toolkit and an annotated bibliography that was used in developing the guide. Funding to support development of these materials was provided through a contract from the Florida Office of Drug Control.
Suicide Prevention Resources and Recommendations Letter
SSPI letter with recommendations and resources to support suicide prevention.
American Association of Suicidology
Provides general guidelines for a school-based suicide prevention program, outlining the necessary components of a comprehensive school-based program including a sample curriculum. This Web site also contains information about evidence-based programs for suicide prevention.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
The AFSP is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
California Healthy Kids Resource Center
Contains peer-reviewed research-based programs, videos, and books on suicide prevention and intervention. To access these materials, click on "Health Education Library" and use the key word "suicide." These materials can be borrowed from the resource center for four weeks with free delivery anywhere in California.
California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA)
The CalMHSA is an independent administration and fiscal government agency focused on the efficient delivery of California mental health projects. Member counties work together to develop, fund and implement mental health services, projects and educational programs at the state, regional and local levels.
Center for Mental Health in Schools-Mental Health Project
The Center for Mental Health in Schools-Mental Health Project at the University of California, Los Angeles is a thorough resource for school interventions aimed at preventing suicide. It includes training on causes of suicide, data and statistics, assessing suicide risk, intervention planning and training, suicide aftermath assistance and prevention of copycat suicides, as well as other resources and contacts.
The Dougy Center, National Center for Grieving Children and Families provides support and training locally, nationally, and internationally to individuals and organizations seeking to assist children and teens in grief from loss, including suicide.
Jason Foundation, Inc.
The Jason Foundation, Inc. is a nationally recognized leader in youth suicide awareness and prevention. The Web site contains a wide range of informative, educational materials and programs available to parents, teachers, youth workers, and others who are concerned about youth suicide.
Know the Signs
Know the Signs is a statewide suicide prevention social marketing campaign built on three key messages: Know the Signs. Find the Words. Reach Out. This campaign is intended to educate Californians on how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to find the words to have a direct conversation with someone in crisis and where to find professional help and resources.
At-Risk for Middle School Educators and At-Risk for High School Educators are research-proven online gatekeeper training simulations designed to prepare teachers, administrators and staff to recognize when a student is exhibiting signs of psychological distress, and manage a conversation with the student with the goal of connecting them to the appropriate support.
Mental Health Services Act
The passage of Proposition 63 (now known as the Mental Health Services Act) provides the first opportunity in many years for the California Department of Mental Health to provide increased funding, personnel and other resources to support county mental health programs and monitor progress toward statewide goals for children, transition age youth, adults, older adults and families.
My3App is a mobile application designed to help those who may be having thoughts of suicide, or who have a history of suicidal behavior stay safe when they are experiencing thoughts of suicide.
National Center for Suicide Prevention Training
The National Center for Suicide Prevention Training provides educational resources to assist public officials, service providers, and community-based coalitions develop effective suicide prevention programs and policies. It includes facilitated and self-paced on-line workshops that provide training on suicide prevention.
National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention provides a framework for suicide prevention efforts across the county. Building on the work of the Surgeon General’s Call to Action, this resource provides data about suicide, as well as information about suicide prevention efforts throughout the nation. Information about California’s suicide prevention activities can be found by clicking on “Federal, State and private activities” and selecting from the drop down menu under "Prevention Programs."
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California
NAMI California is a grass roots organization of families and individuals whose lives have been affected by serious mental illness. NAMI provides leadership in legislation, policy development, education and support throughout California.
National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH)
NIMH envisions a world in which mental illnesses are prevented and cured. The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illness through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.
Signs of Suicide (SOS) - Youth Programs
The Screening for Mental Health's SOS Suicide Prevention Program is a school-based suicide prevention program targeting. The program educates teens in recognizing the signs of suicide and outlines action steps for dealing with this mental health emergency. The National Association of Schools Psychologists and many other national associations endorse SOS.
The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
This resource provides practical information about youth suicide prevention that is relevant to schools, parents, and students. This national, nonprofit organization increases awareness about both the problem of youth suicide and increases accessibility to user-friendly resources available to prevent it.
Surgeon General's Call to Action, 1999
This report promotes awareness and intervention for suicide and its risk factor and includes a section dedicated to suicide issues and facts among young people.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
This free and confidential telephone service is open 24 hours a day with counselors available to talk about thoughts of suicide or concerns about someone who may be suicidal.
Trevor Project - Ask for Help
This public service announcement campaign features empowering, first-person accounts of youth reaching out to friends, parents or counselors to promote the idea that it's ok to ask for help when you need it.
Walk in Our Shoes
This campaign utilizes real stories from teens and young adults to teach youth about mental health challenges and mental wellness. The multifaceted campaign uses positive, authentic, and appropriate stories told through an interactive Web site, school-based theatrical performance, and a statewide public education campaign.
Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program
Part of the Light for Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to awareness, education, and collaboration for suicide prevention. There is a cost for Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Training and to form local chapters.
Youth Suicide Prevention Programs: A Resource Guide
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's guide which includes eight different suicide prevention strategies including school gatekeeper training, community gatekeeper training, general suicide education, screening programs, peer support programs, crisis centers and hotlines, suicide restriction methods, and postvention. Although it was created in 1992, the site remains relevant.