Schools are the central hub of rural areas and have a large stake in mental health promotion and suicide
prevention among children and youth. The reasons schools play an important role are:
Youth spend a majority of their time in school.
Mental health can affect school performance.
Suicide prevention aligns with a school's overall mission of maintaining a safe environment for youth.
Schools can help counteract exposure to risk factors rural youth experience in the home and community.
Schools can help alleviate the burden of care placed on the limited number of youth
mental health facilities and providers in rural areas by working on upstream and downstream
Because it is almost impossible to predict when a crisis may occur, schools should be prepared with suicide
prevention policies, procedures, and programming in place. Schools should use a comprehensive approach to develop suicide prevention plans
that address the suicide continuum — upstream prevention, intervention, and postvention (after a suicide death). This can include addressing
risk factors and promoting protective factors by educating students, families, and staff; teaching healthy
problem-solving and coping skills; identifying and helping students at risk; partnering with community
organizations; and responding to a death by suicide. The Positive
Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework aligns with comprehensive school-based suicide
prevention efforts and can support suicide prevention and the improvement of behavioral and learning outcomes
With suicide deaths occurring at
younger ages, school policies and programs should be developmentally appropriate for the elementary,
middle, and high school levels. The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
and The Jason Foundation are two organizations that provide
information, resources, and training related to suicide prevention among youth and teens.
School suicide prevention includes two key elements:
Program Clearinghouse Examples
Resources to Learn More
Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
Details a series of steps to help high school staff and community partners design and implement a comprehensive
school-based suicide prevention program for their students. Includes worksheets and factsheets along with an
annotated directory of resources to help facilitate the process.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Prevention Across the Educational Continuum: Six-Part Webinar Series
Provides a series of presentations on suicide prevention and interventions for youth, young adults, and college
students. Covers current research on the relationship of genetics and individuals at risk of suicide, offers
strategies for assessing suicide risk, discusses treatment and care for youth with Severe Emotional Disturbance
(SED), and identifies best practices for crisis intervention and response planning.
Organization(s): Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC)