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Section 1526: Suicide Awareness/ Prevention Education: Guidelines & Educational Materials

Note: Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, each school entity shall:

(1) Adopt an age-appropriate youth suicide awareness and prevention policy and (2) Include in its professional development plan submitted to the secretary for approval pursuant to section 1205.1 four (4) hours of training in youth suicide awareness and prevention every five (5) years for professional educators in school buildings serving students in grades six through twelve.

Student Programs/Resources:

Prevent Suicide PA’s Annual PSA Contest for High School Students
Students are encouraged to develop and submit a youth suicide prevention PSA in one of 4 categories (poster, audio, 30 second video, 60 second video). Rules and guidelines for upcoming PSA contests are generally released in August and can be found by visiting the PSA homepage. All of the winning and honorable mention PSAs from previous years are available for free and can be accessed by visiting PSA Content-Previous Contests.

More Than Sad Program
The More Than Sad Program of the American Foundation for Suicide prevention provides education about factors that put youth at risk for suicide, in particular depression and other mental disorders. The program includes two sets of materials one for teens and one for teachers and school personnel. Instructional materials to accompany More Than Sad Program, include a power point presentation.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
PA AFSP chapters will make the "More Than Sad" DVD available free to all high and middle schools in PA that request one. Contact your local PA chapter via email at:

Professional Development

Prevent Suicide PA's Online Learning Center
The Suicide Prevention Online Learning Center offers general “gatekeeper” training to promote mental health literacy, specifically in the realm of suicide prevention. Trainings provided on the site are free, based on individual roles in the school system, and in-line with a multi-tiered approach, as well as state legislation. Specialized trainings are available for mental health professionals, which includes training on risk assessments and safety planning, and a webinar is available to administrators on school suicide prevention policy.

Kognito At-Risk for High School Educators
A 1-hour, online, interactive gatekeeper training program that prepares high school teachers and other school personnel to identify, approach, and refer students who are exhibiting signs of psychological distress such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. Through a self-paced, narrative-driven experience, participants build knowledge, skills, and confidence to connect at-risk students to counseling, mental health, or crisis support services.

Youth Mental Health First Aid
Designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. The course is designed to improve participants' knowledge and modify their attitudes and perceptions about mental health and related issues, including how to respond to individuals who are experiencing one or more acute mental health crises (i.e., suicidal thoughts and/or behavior, acute stress reaction, panic attacks, and/or acute psychotic behavior) or are in the early stages of one or more chronic mental health problems (i.e., depressive, anxiety, and/or psychotic disorders, which may occur with substance abuse).

Making Educators Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention
Online interactive training program for educators and school staff. Designed in a series of 5 modules, it addresses the critical but limited responsibilities of educators in the process of identification and referral of potentially suicidal youth. It focuses on the practical realities and challenges inherent in the school setting through a variety of training formats that include lecture, question and answer, and role plays. This training is available free of charge.

ASK about Suicide to Save a Life
This program provides participants with an overview of the basic epidemiology of suicide and suicidal behavior, including risk and protective factors. Participants are trained to recognize warning signs—behaviors and characteristics that might indicate elevated risk for suicidal behavior—and how to intervene with a person they think might be at risk for suicide. Implementation Essentials: Participants should be aware of the suicide prevention protocols for their particular setting along with local referral points for those who may be at risk for suicide.

More Than Sad: Suicide Prevention Education for Teachers and Other School Personnel
Developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, this training is designed to help educators better understand suicidal behavior in adolescents, including its causes, treatment, and prevention. This program is available to Pennsylvania school entities free of charge. AFSP chapters in Pennsylvania based on counties. For a copy of the More Than Sad program or more information, please find the AFSP Pennsylvania Chapter for you and contact that chapter directly.

PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention Training Curriculum (2nd Edition)
Consists of two complementary workshops. Workshop 1 is designed to help schools create systems to meet the safety and crisis prevention and preparedness needs of students, staff, and families. Workshop 2 focuses on mental health crisis intervention and recovery. The curriculum builds on existing personnel, resources, and programs; links to ongoing school safety efforts; facilitates sustainability; addresses a range of crises (including suicide); and can be adapted to each school's size and needs.

QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention: QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention
Suicide Prevention is a 1-2 hour educational program designed to teach "gatekeepers"--those who are strategically positioned to recognize and refer someone at risk of suicide (e.g., parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, caseworkers, police officers)--the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond by following three steps; Question, Persuade, and Refer.

Be A Link
(email for training cost and more information) Be A Link! is an adult gatekeeper training program that provides participants with knowledge to help them identify youth at risk for suicide and refer them to appropriate help resources. Be A Link! requires a certified Yellow Ribbon trainer.

Wisconsin Gatekeeper Online training
Accompanying PowerPoint

Crisis Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( or 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line ( or Text PA to 741-741.

General Resources

Prevent Suicide PA
Mission - To support those who are affected by suicide, provide education, awareness, and understanding by collaborating with the community to prevent suicide, and reduce the stigma associated with suicide.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Provides resources to educators and other stakeholders on youth and adult suicide prevention.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
A membership organization for all those involved in suicide prevention and intervention, or touched by suicide. AAS is a leader in the advancement of scientific and programmatic efforts in suicide prevention through research, education and training, the development of standards and resources, and survivor support services.

Services for Teens At Risk (STAR Center)
A comprehensive research, treatment, and training center. Funded by the State of Pennsylvania's General Assembly in 1986 to address adolescent suicide and depression, the program provides individual assessment and treatment to teens that are experiencing depression and suicidality. They also provide community education services about depression and suicidality to schools, social service agencies, churches and other organizations that request them.

The Trevor Project
Leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

School Resources

Considerations for Virtual Adaptations to School Suicide Prevention Policies and Procedures
This document was developed to assist schools with reviewing existing suicide prevention policies and procedures to determine whether implementation may need to be modified, particularly within a virtual or hybrid structure. Read Considerations for Virtual Adaptations to School Suicide Prevention Policies and Procedures (PDF), which offers initial guiding questions and considerations for action steps for schools.

STAR-Center Postvention Standards Manual, 5th Edition
This manual is intended to guide schools and communities in developing their own postvention (i.e., services offered in an aftermath of a suicide or tragedy) policies and procedures. Additionally, an accompanying document on Adapted Postvention Considerations for Schools (PDF) was developed to provide guidance on school postvention in the midst of physical distancing, virtual operations, and closures due to COVID-19.

Youth Suicide Prevention School Based Guide
Designed to provide accurate, user-friendly information. The Guide is not a program but a tool that provides a framework for schools to assess their existing or proposed suicide prevention efforts (through a series of checklists) and provides resources and information that school administrators can use to enhance or add to their existing program. First, checklists can be completed to help evaluate the adequacy of the schools' suicide prevention programs. Second, information is offered in a series of issue briefs corresponding to a specific checklist. Each brief offers a rationale for the importance of the specific topic together with a brief overview of the key points. The briefs also offer specific strategies that have proven to work in reducing the incidence of suicide, with references that schools may then explore in greater detail. A resource section with helpful links is also included. The Guide provides information to schools to assist them in the development of a framework to work in partnership with community resources and families.

Toolkit for High Schools
Assists high schools and school districts in designing and implementing strategies to prevent suicide and promote behavioral health. Includes tools to implement a multi-faceted suicide prevention program that responds to the needs and cultures of students. Released in June 2012.

Parent Resources

This video from the Society for Prevention of Teen Suicide is a good reference for parents. It is free of charge.