Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention, & Postvention
OSPI strives to provide resources and support to help inform ESDs, school districts, and schools in the development of Suicide Prevention Plans. Suicide prevention planning informs all adults in schools and communities about how to intervene with a young person exhibiting warning signs for suicide. Intervention at the right time, by the right person, may prevent suicide or calm a crisis!
The 988 dialing code connects people via call, text, or chat, to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). Compassionate, accessible care and support are available for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress. Call services are available with interpretation services in over 150 languages.
- The Trevor Project (LGBTQ+ Youth)
- The Trevor Project Crisis Line: 1-866-488-7286
- The Trevor Project Text Line: text START to 678678
- The Trevor Project Web Chat
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Web Chat
- Lifeline Options for Deaf + Hard of Hearing: or TTY users, use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255
- Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
- King County Crisis Outreach Response System (CCORS): 1-206-461-3222
- To learn more about crisis and stabilization services available to children and youth in King County, visit the CCORS website. CCORS are first responders like police and fire who are not required to have memorandums of understanding (MOUs) before they can come provide their services.
School staff have day-to-day contact with many young people, some of whom are experiencing mental distress or illness that could result in feelings of hopelessness that could lead to suicidal behavior. Those who work in schools are well-positioned to observe student behavior and act when they suspect that a student may be at risk of self- harm and/or suicide.
- Self-harm and Suicide Warning Signs
- Warning Sign Guidance in School
- WA Department of Health Warning Signs Guidance
ESD Behavioral Health Navigators
Second Substitute House Bill (2SHB) 1216 (2019–20) funded Behavioral Health Coordinator/Navigator (BHN) positions in all nine of Washington's Educational Service Districts (ESDs) to provide a network of support for school districts to develop and implement comprehensive suicide prevention and behavioral health supports for students.
BHN Contact List
The CARE course is a free, research-backed, web-based course to provide educators and other school staff the tools and confidence to identify students who may be at risk for emotional or behavioral distress, including suicide, substance use, violence, and sexual abuse. CARE will help all school staff understand when and how to intervene and make referrals to counselors and mental health professionals, based on their district’s policy and procedure.
Anyone can take this course. Counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses can take the course, but it does not meet the course requirement for certification or recertification. Those courses can be found on the Professional Educator Standards Board Website.
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 28A.320.127 requires educators receive training on how to recognize and respond to students experiencing emotional or behavioral distress.
The purpose of a prevention plan is to protect the health and well-being of all students by having procedures in place to prevent, assess the risk of, intervene in, and respond to students in crisis.
- OSPI: Model District Template: Student Social, Emotional and Behavioral, and Mental Health Recognition, Screening, and Response
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Blueprint for Suicide Prevention
- National Association of School Psychologists (NASP): Preventing Youth Suicide
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): To Live to See the Great Day that Dawns, Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults
Guides & Examples
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- Health Care Alliance for Response to Adolescent Depression (HEARD):
The Student/Youth Mental Health Literacy Library gives any teacher, school counselor or other staff member a comprehensive resource of professionally vetted curricula and school presentations to easily and quickly compare available programs at their fingertips. The site has three very important features. The University of Washington SMART Center has prepared an Implementation Guide Toolkit featured on the site that provides best practices for program implementation.
The grief associated with a death by suicide can be quite overwhelming. When a school community experiences a loss by suicide the effects can be felt on various levels. Using protocols that follow model guidance and knowing where to turn for help is critical.
- Suicide Postvention Guide for Schools in Washington State | Presentation slides
- Suicide Postvention in Schools Handout
- Suicide Postvention: The Role of the School Community After a Suicide
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC):
Training for School Professionals
- The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) maintains the list of approved trainings required for school nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers.
- The Suicide Prevention Resource Center Page for Resources and Programs has a searchable database of evidence-based programs and practices for education, screening, treatment, and environmental change that can be filtered based on the intended population.
- National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (AASP): COVID Guidance: Screening for Suicide Risk during Telehealth Visits
- Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA): Youth Mental Health Communication Toolkit, No Shame in your Brain
- Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS): Suicide Prevention Information for Parents
- Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC): How to Talk to a Child about a Suicide Attempt in Your Family