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September Is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
September 1, 2016

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:


The California Department of Education (CDE) recognizes September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. There are activities taking place in September which include the National Suicide Prevention Week on September 5–11, 2016, and World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2016.

Youth suicide is a preventable public health problem, yet it occurs at progressively high levels in California and across the nation. These activities in September provide important opportunities for school staff to join suicide prevention efforts and highlight the numerous activities organized to prevent suicides across California and the world.

Youth suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults between the ages of fifteen to twenty-four. Research demonstrates that 20 percent of students in kindergarten through twelfth grade classrooms suffer from a mental health issue that affects their relationships at home, in school, and the community. Often these students suffer silently, become alienated, and may be quietly contemplating suicide.

To promote student success inside and outside the classroom, we need to provide the tools and training to help school staff create a caring and supportive school environment. Early detection of student mental health issues by trusted adults and referrals for appropriate mental health care can save lives on school campuses across the state.

The CDE’s Project Cal-Well is offering free eight hour training in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). YMHFA is a valuable resource for youth-serving adults as it teaches specific skills that are critical during a mental health crisis, including suicidal ideation. It is our goal to increase awareness of mental health and wellness across the state’s educational system and train as many school staff as possible in YMHFA.

I encourage school districts to research local suicide prevention activities and identify their own resources to support student mental health and wellness. It is important for school districts to develop their own suicide prevention protocols and policies, so staff are prepared in the event of a suicide. For other suicide prevention resources and activities, please visit the following:

I recognize the importance of the health, safety, and well-being of our students, and believe mental health and wellness must be a top priority in our schools. By working together, we can increase awareness of the mental health issues our students face and reduce the number of student suicides.

Please join me in taking a stand to reduce youth suicide by promoting activities that inform, educate, give hope, and support youth who may be experiencing suicidal ideation.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Monica Nepomuceno, Education Programs Consultant, Educational Options, Student Support, and American Indian Education Office [Note: this contact now works in the Educator Excellence and Equity Division], by phone at 916-323-2212 or by e-mail at


Tom Torlakson


Last Reviewed: Thursday, May 7, 2020

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