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preventing suicide

preventing suicide

The SDUHSD Governing Board recognizes that suicide is a leading cause of death among youth worldwide, with complex contributing factors. Suicide is preventable. The possibility of suicide requires vigilant attention from our school community. The board adopted a policy and administrative regulation, 5141.52 Suicide Prevention, based on model policies in prevention, intervention, and postvention. Along with the community and families, we work to create safe and nurturing campuses and work as partners with families to build protective factors such as connection, coping skills and resilience in students and to increase help-seeking from adults.
When all adults and students in the school community are committed to making suicide prevention a priority - and are empowered to take the correct actions - we can help youth before they engage in behavior with irreversible consequences. Evidence refutes a common belief that talking about suicide can increase risk or place the idea in someone's mind. 
What are Protective Factors?

What are Protective Factors?

Protective Factors to Build
A protective factor is a characteristic or attribute that reduces the likelihood of attempting or completing suicide.
Protective factors are skills, strengths, or resources that can be learned and that help people deal more effectively with stressful events and help to counterbalance risk factors. Increasing protective factors can serve to decrease suicide risk.
Strengthening these factors should be an ongoing process to increase resilience during the presence of increased risk factors or other stressful situations. 



  • Social skills - decision-making, problem-solving, and anger management
  • Good health and access to mental and physical health care
  • Strong connections to friends and family as well as supportive significant others
  • Cultural, religious, or spiritual beliefs that discourage suicide
  • A healthy fear of risky behaviors and pain
  • Hope for the future—optimism
  • Sobriety
  • Medical compliance and a sense of the importance of health and wellness
  • Impulse control
  • Strong sense of self-worth or self-esteem
  • Sense of personal control or determination
  • Attitudes, values, and norms prohibiting suicide - strong beliefs about the meaning and value of life
  • Access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for seeking help
  • Coping skills and resiliency
  • Clear reasons for living
risk factors

risk factors

Although not predictors, specific characteristics are associated with an increased chance of having suicidal thoughts. These include youth experiencing:
  • Disabilities, mental illness, or substance use disorders
  • Family stress/dysfunction including abuse, homelessness, or in out-of-home settings, such as foster care
  • Environmental risks, including the presence of a firearm in the home., 
  • Grief due to the suicide of another person ("contagion") or the traumatic death of a loved one
  • Being LGBTQIA


  • Strong relationships, particularly with family members
  • Opportunities to participate in and contribute to school or community projects and activities
  • A reasonably safe and stable environment
  • Access to resources
  • Restricted access to lethal means
  • Responsibilities and duties to others
  • Having pets
warning signs

warning signs

Most suicidal youth demonstrate observable behaviors that signal their suicidal thinking. These include:
  • Suicidal threats in the form of direct (“I am going to kill myself”) and indirect (“I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up again”) statements.
  • Suicide notes and plans (including online postings).
  • Prior suicidal behavior.
  • Making final arrangements (e.g., making funeral arrangements, writing a will, giving away prized possessions).
  • Preoccupation with death.
  • Changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts and/or feelings.
Know the Signs

Know the Signs

Know the SignsRisk Factors, Warning Signs & What to Do
What to Do

What to Do

Youth who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly; however, parents, school personnel, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to keep the youth safe. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:
  • Remain calm.
  • Ask the youth directly if they are thinking about suicide (e.g., Directly say “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”).
  • Focus on your concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
  • Do not judge. Listen with acceptance of their feelings and show compassion.
  • Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.
  • Provide constant supervision. Do not leave the youth alone.
  • Remove any means for self-harm.
  • Get Help - No one should ever agree to keep a youth’s suicidal thoughts a secret and instead should tell an appropriate caregiving adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school psychologist. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to a school-employed mental health professional or administrator. If there is immediate danger, call 9-1-1.


We are all responsible for providing an appropriate and timely response to prevent suicidal thoughts, attempts, and deaths. As per AB 2246, the district Suicide Prevention Policy is followed by all schools to protect the health and safety of students in the school setting and to ensure adequate support for students, staff, and families affected by suicide attempts and loss. The policy is based on research and best practices in suicide prevention. It was adopted with the understanding that suicide prevention activities increase help-seeking behavior, decrease suicide risks, identify those at risk of suicide, and decrease suicidal behaviors. The law requires public schools to "address the needs of high-risk groups, including, but not limited to, all of the following: (A) Youth bereaved by suicide. (B) Youth with disabilities, mental illness, or substance use disorders. (C) Youth experiencing homelessness or in out-of-home settings, such as foster care. (D) Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning youth."
All school staff and student ID cards contain the National Suicide Prevention Line, crisis text line, and site contacts for use in an urgent situation. If you have an urgent/immediate concern about a student, please call 911. Please contact the child's school counselor for assistance if you have non-urgent concerns. 

Overall Strategic Plan for Suicide Prevention To ensure the policies regarding suicide prevention are properly implemented and updated, the Director of School and Student Services serves as the suicide prevention point of contact for the district. In addition, each school shall identify at least one staff member to serve as the liaison to the Director responsible for coordinating and implementing suicide prevention activities on their specific campus.
School and District Contacts
 Canyon Crest Academy  858-350-0253   Brett Killeen
 Carmel Valley Middle School  858-481-8221  Vicki Kim
 Diegueño Middle School  760-944-3717  Celeste Barnette; Laura Martin
 Earl Warren Middle School    858-755-1558  Erica Williams; Jessica Craven
 La Costa Canyon High School  760-436-6136  Nate Reinking
 Oak Crest Middle School   760-753-6241  Victoria Anderson; Michelle McNeff
 Pacific Trails Middle School  858-509-1000  Lisa Curry
 San Dieguito Academy High School   760-753-1121  Jaime Garman
 Sunset High School   760-753-3860  Sara Balderas; Rick Ayala
 Torrey Pines High School   858-755-0125  Rob Coppo
 SDUHSD District Office     760-753-6491 Tiffany Hazlewood; Melissa Sage 
If you or someone that you know is experiencing a crisis, call 9-1-1 or the San Diego Access & Crisis Line Mobile Crisis Response Teams (MCRT): (888) 724-7240
-Child Protective Services 858-560-2191/800-344-6000
-Emergency Screening Unit (ESU) 619-876-4502


For further mental health support, SDUHSD partners with CareSolace, a confidential online resource with a live 24/7 concierge line (888) 515-0595 meant to assist individuals in finding local mental health-related programs and counseling services. 
- Health Insurance - Contact your insurance to access mental health services.