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Model Suicide-Prevention Policy Released to Guide District Efforts

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Four youth organizations released a model suicide-prevention policy Wednesday designed to inform district-level efforts around the country.

The groups hope the materials will help districts launch new prevention efforts or revamp existing policies with new research and ideas.

"When suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth as young as 10 through age-19, it is crucial that our school districts have proactive suicide prevention policies in place," said a release from the organizations—The Trevor Project, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists.

Only four states—Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee—currently require that educators receive annual training to prevent suicide, the organizations said. They encouraged districts to take the initiative in addressing the mental health needs of students.

"To reduce the prevalence of suicide attempts among youth throughout the nation, the movement for mandated suicide prevention training must grow, and school districts everywhere must take steps to have strong prevention policies in place," the release said.

The materials, adaptable for middle schools or high schools, include guidance on state laws; discussion of the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth; sample student-handbook language; and information about parental involvement.

"As emphasized in the National Strategy on Suicide Prevention, preventing suicide depends not only on suicide prevention policies, but also on a holistic approach that promotes healthy lifestyles, families, and communities. Thus, this model policy is intended to be paired with other policies and efforts that support the emotional and behavioral well-being of youth," the materials say.

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