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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
August 30, 2018

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The California Department of Education is pleased to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), including its video presentations More Than Sad: Suicide Prevention Education for Teachers and Other School Personnel; After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools; and its newest resource It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages ten to twenty-four. Research shows that for every suicide death there are more than 20 suicide attempts. Suicidal behavior is a major problem for our youth. Most suicidal behaviors, however, can be prevented. As educators, we all have an ethical responsibility to try to prevent suicides through the use of better research, education, and by learning how to intervene to save a life.

With September recognized as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I want to commend the efforts of the AFSP for providing the public with highly needed information and resources. After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools was developed by AFSP and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, two of the nation’s leading organizations devoted to suicide prevention, and helps give schools vital and reliable information, practical tools, and guidance about how to cope with the aftermath of a suicide in their school community.

The AFSP has developed educational programs to help teachers, classified staff, and other personnel learn about teen suicide and how they can play a role in its prevention. The more families and school staff know about how to recognize early symptoms and provide emergency interventions, the more effective we will be at reducing the number of young people who injure themselves or take their own lives.

More Than Sad: Suicide Prevention Education for Teachers and Other School Personnel features two films, each approximately 25 minutes in length, and a manual that integrates both films into a comprehensive suicide prevention program. These films present vital information regarding how to intervene to thwart a suicide attempt. It also includes advice about how to help youth obtain professional help when needed. It illustrates how depression and anxiety can affect young people differently and how providing appropriate treatment can help to prevent a young person from being exposed to life-threatening danger.

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools includes general guidelines for action, do’s and don’ts, and templates and sample materials. It covers topics such as Crisis Response, Helping Students Cope, Working with the Community, Memorialization, Social Media, Suicide Contagion, and Bringing in Outside Help.

I would also like to commend California schools and districts that provide staff training on youth suicide prevention as part of their regular professional development. I also want to encourage all districts to expeditiously address Assembly Bill 2246, chaptered as California Education Code Section 215. AB 2246 mandates that the Governing Board of any local educational agency 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.

Protecting the health and well-being of our students is an ethical responsibility of all professionals working on a school site. Youth suicide is preventable, and school staff have key roles in this prevention.

Please join me by utilizing AFSP’s available suicide prevention resources to help our youth who may be struggling with suicidal ideation.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Monica Nepomuceno, Education Programs Consultant, Coordinated Student Support Division, by phone at 916-322-2212 or by email at


Tom Torlakson

Last Reviewed: Friday, August 31, 2018

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