Suicide Prevention

Because there is no single cause of suicide and no group of people is immune to suicide, prevention efforts target factors that have been shown to contribute to the development of suicide thoughts and behavior. 

– Suicide in Schools, A Practitioner’s Guide to Multi-level Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention (Erbacher, Singer, Poland) 


Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention refers to efforts to prevent suicide from occurring. This may include training and education (for students, staff, caregivers, and the wider community), universal screening, and promoting and maintaining a positive school climate.


Elements of Suicide Prevention Policy

  • Gatekeeper Training and Education for School Staff
  • Identifying community resources
  • Suicide Awareness Curriculum for Students​
  • Screening​
  • Establishment of a Crisis Response Team
  • Evaluation of Suicide Prevention Efforts​
  • Educating and Collaborating with Student Caregivers/Families and Community Members​
  • Teaching Adaptive Skills to Students​
  • Peer Support Groups​

Best Practices in Suicide Prevention Programs

  • Provide education ​
  • Organize the right people to lead suicide prevention efforts​
  • Articulate clear scope of practice, roles, & responsibilities​
  • Train ALL faculty and staff in Gatekeeper training- frequently and repeatedly​
  • Provide information for parents and caregivers​
  • Train on Counseling on Access to Lethal Means
  • Train students through Suicide Awareness Curriculum​
  • Express explicit prioritization by Administrators ​
  • Take efforts to improve school climate through improving connectedness, diversity and inclusion, and an institutional commitment to equity​

A comprehensive school-based suicide prevention program will utilize various approaches and should not rely on one prevention method. Rather programs should implement and maintain numerous prevention strategies in order to effectively prevent adolescent suicide. 

The Youth Suicide Prevention School-Based Guide


The Youth Suicide Prevention School-Based Guide, University of South Florida

About the AFSP Model School Policy Priorities

AFSP Model School Policy: Video

AFSP Model School Policy: PDF

SAMHSA Issue Brief: Suicide Prevention in Schools, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The Trevor Project Model School Policy, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists

K-12 Toolkit for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention, HEARD Alliance

Preventing Youth Suicide, National Association of School Psychologists 

To Live to See the Great Day That Dawns Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults, SAMHSA

Healthy Mind and Body: A Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Guide, True Recovery

Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents and Educators, National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

Sources of Strength