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 state regulations require that school districts maintain an appropriate social climate on campus, in classrooms, and at school-sponsored events. In particular, 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 thinking about suicide, it IS a crisis and the Principal must depend on the 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 and 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.

In the Administrators section, Administrators will find a multitude of handouts and links that address:

  • The role of the administrator in suicide prevention and intervention
  • Guidelines for intervening with suicidal and self injurious students
  • Postvention guidelines for intervening in the aftermath of a student, staff or parent death by suicide
  • Crisis response for Principals and Student Services staff
  • A toolkit for schools for preventing depression
  • Preventing suicidal behavior among LGBTQ youth
  • Extensive information on working with media and clergy in the aftermath of suicide

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

  • The role of the teacher in suicide prevention A guide for staff in recognizing and responding to the warning signs of suicide A training model for school counselors
  • Understanding student reactions to the anniversary date of a peer’s death
  • A guide for educators on safe and responsible use of the internet
  • Resources for school personnel from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network