Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
The California Department of Education (CDE) recognizes September 2019 as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The September activities provide important opportunities for students and school staff to join suicide prevention efforts across California and the world, including National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week on September 6–12, 2019, and World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2019.
Youth suicide is a preventable public health problem, yet it occurs at high levels in California and across the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among youth between ten and twenty-four years of age.
The CDE is committed to preventing suicides and offers various resources to local educational agencies (LEAs) that will help support and enhance their efforts.
The CDE’s Project Cal-Well offers Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training to LEAs at no cost. This eight-hour training provides youth-serving adults with specific skills that are critical during a mental health crisis, including suicidal ideation. LEAs interested in hosting a YMHFA training should send an email to YMHFA@cde.ca.gov.
The CDE works with the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, Inc. (SHP) to equip students and school staff to recognize when a student is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else and to reach out to them to promote school connectedness and a sense of community. LEAs interested in receiving SHP and YMHFA trainings at no cost can register on the Project Cal-STOP Training Response web page at https://ucsf.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_b895iktCja5V1E9.
To provide LEAs with robust information and resources for September activities, the CDE, in collaboration with Each Mind Matters and Directing Change, hosted a Suicide Prevention Awareness Month webinar on July 17, 2019, from 10 to 11 a.m.
The CDE has partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), California, to deliver NAMI on Campus High School (NCHS) Workshops. The goal of the workshops is to support school teams to start an NCHS Club on their campus. The student-led clubs focus on mental health and wellness and provide critical opportunities to eliminate the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and reduce suicides. For more information on the NCHS Workshops, please visit the CDE Project Cal-Well web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/mh/projectcalwell.asp.
Additionally, the CDE has selected the San Diego County Office of Education, per California Education Code (EC) Section 216, to provide access to an online suicide prevention training program that LEAs can use to train middle and high school staff and students at no cost and on a voluntary basis. Access will begin in late fall 2019.
I encourage all LEAs to develop and review their own suicide prevention protocols and policies to ensure they adhere to EC Section 215. As a reminder, the CDE has a Model Youth Suicide Prevention Policy that can be found on the CDE Youth Suicide Prevention web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/mh/suicideprevres.asp.
I would also like to remind all LEAs that administer student identification cards of EC Section 215.5, which requires the cards to include the National Suicide Prevention Hotline telephone number and, if desired, a local suicide prevention hotline telephone number. Our suicide prevention partners suggest using the following language:
If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or having trouble coping, there is help. Students in distress can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (en Español 1-888-628-9454) for free and confidential support. Text “home” to 741741. Call (Insert local suicide hotline).
For additional suicide prevention resources, please visit the CDE Youth Suicide Prevention web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/mh/suicideprevres.asp.
The health, safety, and well-being of our students is of critical importance, and I believe mental health and wellness must be a top priority in our schools. Please join me in taking a stand to reduce suicides.
If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Monica Nepomuceno, Education Programs Consultant, School Health Office, by phone at 916-323-2212 or by e-mail at email@example.com.