A Model School Policy on Suicide Prevention

Model School Policy

Four leading organizations have come together to release a Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention. This modular, adaptable document will help educators and school administrators implement comprehensive suicide prevention policies in communities nationwide. When suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth as young as 10 through age-19, it is crucial that our school districts have proactive suicide prevention policies in place.

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We were able to define the best practices that create a strong, positive school environment — Robert Gebbia

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The model policy, a collaboration created by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and The Trevor Project, is research-based, comprehensive and easily adaptable for middle and high schools without policies or those that need help amending existing policies. Inside, readers will find specific, actionable steps to support school personnel; sample language for student handbooks; suggestions for involving parents and guardians in suicide prevention; and guidance for addressing in-school suicide attempts.

In addition to educators and school leaders, school-based mental health professionals such as counselors and psychologists are essential in putting a policy into practice to enhance the whole school environment. “School counselors are often the first to identify a student who may be at risk,” said Dr. Richard Wong, Executive Director, American School Counselor Association. “With protocols in place we can help that individual student as well as support school personnel in creating safe schools.”

Only five states in the U.S. currently require that educators receive annual training to prevent suicide, (Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Tennessee). To reduce the prevalence of suicide attempts among youth throughout the nation, the movement for mandated suicide prevention training must grow, and school districts everywhere must take steps to have strong prevention policies in place. With recommendations rooted in best practices, the “Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention” can complement state law requirements and help schools achieve an inclusive, comprehensive suicide prevention plan.

A text-only version and presentation slides are available upon request.