Schools Must Have Suicide Prevention Policies in Place for 2017-18 School Year
Model Youth Suicide Prevention Policy Now Online
California school districts, county offices of education and charter schools serving students grades 7 - 12 are required to have suicide prevention policies in place prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year pursuant to AB 2246, adopted last year. Those policies must be developed in consultation with school and community stakeholders, school-employed mental health professionals and suicide prevention experts. They must include procedures addressing suicide prevention, intervention and postvention (aftermath).
As required by the new law, the California Department of Education developed a Model Youth Suicide Prevention Policy to help local educational agencies with their own suicide prevention policies. That model policy, along with a list of suicide prevention resources, is now available online and can be found here.
Under Education Code section 215 — which was added by AB 2246 — a youth suicide prevention policy must include several components. For example, it must specifically address the needs of high-risk groups including:
- youth bereaved by suicide;
- youth with disabilities, mental illness, or substance use disorders;
- youth experiencing homelessness or in out-of-home settings, such as foster care; and
- LGBTQ youth.
The policy must also address teacher training on suicide awareness and prevention. Training materials must include how to identify appropriate mental health services, both at the school site and within the larger community, and when and how to refer youth and their families to those programs. Importantly, the policy must ensure that school employees act only within the authorization and scope of their credentials or licenses, and do not engage in diagnosis or treatment of students unless specifically licensed and employed to do so.
For more information about this new requirement, or assistance in developing a policy for your district or school, please contact the author of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Education Law practice group, or your BB&K attorney.
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