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Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plans

The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that there are 1,100 suicide deaths per year among college students across the country. According to researchers at Prevent Suicide PA, suicide is the second leading cause of death on American college campuses. It is critical that institutions of higher education (IHEs) proactively identify and implement policies, practices, and strategies for addressing mental health issues and preventing student suicide.

In accordance with Act 110 of 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) annually posts a list of IHEs that adopt student mental health and suicide prevention plans.

View a list of IHEs that submitted plans to PDE by the August 1 deadline for the 2019-20 academic year.

Institutions of higher education may submit their adopted plans to RA-highereducation@pa.gov. Plans must be submitted to PDE by August 1 each year.

Certified Suicide Prevention Institution of Higher Education Designation

All institutions of higher education are encouraged to develop and implement a plan to advise students and staff on mental health and suicide prevention resources available on and off campus.

Institutions that meet the requirements outlined in 24 Pa.C.S. § 7103(a) are designated as a Certified Suicide Prevention Institution of Higher Education and are recognized accordingly on the annual list published by PDE.

To obtain this designation, the plan should include the following elements:

  1. Contact information for national, state and local suicide prevention hotlines;

  2. Crisis intervention services, including the address, telephone number, or any other contact information of individuals with training and experience in mental health issues who focus on suicide prevention.  An institution of higher education must make individuals with training and experience available on campus or remotely for students 24 hours a day, seven days a week;

  3. Mental health services and access, including the necessary information to access mental health services, including, but not limited to, health promotion and wellness, student health and counseling, crisis services, local mental health providers and mental health clinics;

  4. Multimedia access, including mental health and suicide warning signs, services available to individuals at no cost and available mental health and suicide prevention resources, which may include mobile applications;

  5. Student communication plans that consist of outreach plans regarding, at a minimum, mental health services and suicide prevention; and

  6. Post-intervention plans, including a process to create a strategic plan to communicate effectively with students, staff and parents after the loss of a student to suicide.

Act 110 also requires that the IHE do the following:

  1. Post the adopted plan on their institution's website along with applicable free prevention materials or programs;

  2. Provide all incoming students with the contact information for national, state, and local suicide prevention hotlines and the crisis intervention services described above in plan elements A and B.

  3. No less than twice per calendar year, transmit to each student by mail or email  the contact information for national, state, and local suicide prevention hotlines and the crisis intervention services described above in plan elements A and B.  

  4. Review and update the plan at least once annually; and

  5. Submit a current copy of the plan to PDE by August 1 of each year.

Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Resources