Pia Escudero, LCSW

Director
School Mental Health, LAUSD

The school is a powerful support system for students, parents, and staff. It can play a critical role in youth suicide prevention. California regulations require schools to have a suicide prevention board policy that addresses prevention, intervention, and postvention for students in grades 7-12. California also requires school districts to address school climate on campus, in classrooms, and at school-sponsored events. California Education Code (CEC) requires the preparation of comprehensive "safe school plans" dealing with violence prevention, emergency preparedness, crisis intervention, and student and employee safety.

At the heart of any safe school plan is the school site crisis team. Principals rely on this team to assess the impact of any crisis on their students, staff, and parents and to advise the principal on how to proceed. When a student is considering suicide, it is a crisis and the principal must depend on this team to respond immediately and responsibly to assure the safety of any student thinking about hurting themselves.

Four out of five students who die by suicide demonstrate detectable warning signs; it is critical for all gatekeepers (school personnel, staff, students, and parents) to know the risk factors and warning signs of youth suicide and the procedures for identifying and intervening with potentially suicidal students.

Comprehensive safe school plans that consider a student’s physical (e.g. clean) and psychological safety (e.g. positive, supportive staff), provide an effective environment for students to be successful. Maintaining a positive school climate is a universal tier of suicide prevention. When students are aware of resources on campus, have at least one trusted adult they feel they can talk to, and feel connected to the school site, students have better academic performance.

In the Administrators section, Administrators will find many resources that address:

  • Suicide prevention board policy
  • The role of the administrator in suicide prevention and intervention
  • Guidelines for intervening with suicidal and self-injurious students
  • Information on suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention
  • Preventing suicidal behavior among LGBTQ youth
  • Working with the media and clergy following a suicide

In the Staff section, Staff will find information, resources and information that address:

  • The teacher’s role in suicide prevention
  • Recognizing and responding to the warning signs of suicide
  • Suicide prevention, intervention and postvention resources for school mental health staff
  • A guide for social media and suicide
  • Resources from various websites addressing suicide and mental health