As winter break approaches, it's important that parents and students have access to information and resources to support their mental well-being.
Learning what signs to recognize, as well as behaviors that could be indicative of suicidal ideation, is critical at this challenging time. The pandemic, along with all of the other social issues, has increased the challenges we are facing. The weight of uncertainty and loss of normal routines falls heavily on all our shoulders, especially our youth as they are bearing a lot and it's impacting their mental health.
Those in the school community all have important roles and responsibilities in supporting the mental well-being of students and in preventing suicides. Research shows that openly talking about youth suicide does not increase the likelihood of a suicide occurring, nor does it result in "planting" the idea. We also know that most youth do not want to die, instead they want their pain to stop. Although we may be feeling our own limitations and be uncomfortable bringing up the topic of suicide with a student exhibiting signs of distress, we must still act.
The California Department of Education's (CDE) Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup Suicide Prevention Committee has created and compiled the following suicide prevention resources for parents, families, caregivers, and community members.
- Help for Students in Crisis: This page contains important hotlines, text lines, and resources for students who are having difficulty coping or just want to talk. It is important to communicate these lines are not only for crisis, but they can also be used by anyone who needs to talk, including parents/guardians who are concerned about their children, or anyone who is not sure how about behaviors they are seeing or experiencing.
- Parent Brochure: This printable brochure includes questions parents can ask themselves to assess if their teen might be at risk of suicide and actions to take. Tips on raising resilient teens as well as resources are provided.
- Suicide Prevention 101 for Parents: Recognizing Signs and What to Do
- Teen Mental Health Guide (available in English and Spanish): Provides resources and information for students to take care of their own and their friends' mental health as well as 10 self-care strategies for teens.
- Resources for Elementary-Level Students: Resources to support mental well-being of younger students.
- Resources for High-Priority Populations: Resources to support mental well-being of high-risk populations as identified in California Education Code Section 215.
- LivingWorks Start Online Suicide Prevention Training for middle and high school staff and students: This 90-minute online suicide prevention training is designed to help build skills to reduce youth suicides.
- Virtual Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainings: The course teaches youth -serving adults (administrators, teachers, nurses, counselors, coaches, secretaries, campus monitors, yard supervisors, registrars, lunch staff, bus drivers, and leaders of faith communities, law enforcement, parents, and youth employers, etc.) how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth.
- Building A Network of Safety for School Communities Suicide Prevention webinar series: Addresses topics within the spectrum of suicide prevention to help educators and school staff gain skills and resources for supporting students, at a distance. The webinars will be offered on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. with the exception of December. Registration must be completed for each webinar.