Board Policy on Suicide Prevention

Board Policy 5141.52 Suicide Prevention

This Board Policy applies to the San Francisco Unified School District and the County Office of Education.


Board Policy 5141.52 (board docs)


The Governing Board recognizes that suicide is a leading cause of death among youth and that school personnel who regularly interact with students are often in a position to recognize the warning signs of suicide and to offer appropriate referral and/or assistance. To attempt to reduce suicidal behavior and its impact on students and families, the Superintendent or designee shall develop measures and strategies for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention.


In developing policy measures and strategies , the Superintendent or designee shall consult with school and community stakeholders, school employed mental health professionals, suicide prevention experts and, in developing policy for grades K-6, the county mental health plan. (Education Code 215)


(cf. 1020 - Youth Services)

(cf. 1220 - Citizen Advisory Committees)

(cf. 1400 - Relations Between Other Governmental Agencies and the Schools)


The Board shall ensure that measures and strategies for students in grades K-6 are age appropriate and delivered and discussed in a manner that is sensitive to the needs of young students. (Education Code 215)

Prevention Measures and Strategies

Such measures and strategies shall include, but are not limited to:


  1. Staff development on suicide awareness and prevention for school social workers, school nurses, teachers, school counselors, and other district employees and community partners who interact with students grades K-12.


(cf. 4131 - Staff Development)

(cf. 4231 - Staff Development)

(cf. 4331 - Staff Development)


  1. Instruction to students in problem-solving and coping skills to promote students' mental, emotional, and social health and well-being, as well as instruction in recognizing and appropriately responding to warning signs of suicidal intent in others.


(cf. 6142.8 - Comprehensive Health Education)


  1. Methods for promoting a positive school climate that enhances students' feelings of connectedness with the school and that is characterized by caring staff and harmonious interrelationships among students.


(cf. 5131 - Conduct)

(cf. 5131.2 - Bullying)

(cf. 5137 - Positive School Climate)

(cf. 5145.3 - Nondiscrimination/Harassment)

(cf. 5145.7 - Sexual Harassment)

(cf. 5145.9 - Hate-Motivated Behavior)


  1. The provision of information to parents/guardians regarding risk factors and warning signs of suicide, the severity of the youth suicide problem, the district's suicide prevention curriculum, basic steps for helping suicidal youth, and/or school and community resources that can help youth in crisis. Such information shall be prioritized to parents of youth who are considered at higher risk of suicidality.
  2. Encouragement for students to notify appropriate school personnel or other adults when they are experiencing thoughts of suicide or when they suspect or have knowledge of another student's suicidal intentions.
  3. Crisis intervention procedures for addressing suicide threats or attempts, including an action plan for out of school suicide attempts
  4. Counseling and other postvention strategies for helping students, staff, and others cope in the aftermath of a student's suicide.


As appropriate, these measures and strategies shall specifically address the needs of students who are at high risk of suicide, including, but not limited to, students who are bereaved by suicide; students with disabilities, mental illness, or substance use disorders; students who are experiencing homelessness or who are in out-of-home settings such as foster care; and students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning youth. (Education Code 215)


If a referral is made for mental health or related services for a student in grade K-12 who is Medi-Cal beneficiary, the Superintendent or designee shall coordinate and consult with the county mental health plan. (Education Code 215)


(cf. 5141.6 - School Health Services)


District employees shall act only within the authorization and scope of their credential or license. Nothing in this policy shall be construed as authorizing or encouraging district employees to diagnose or treat mental illness unless they are specifically licensed and employed to do so. (Education Code 215)


The District shall appoint a single point of contact in the Administrative Regulation to assist school sites in implementation of the suicide prevention policy and procedures.



SFUSD will collect data on suicide risks every other year through the Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).  School Health Programs staff will continue to review data following the survey and share it with stakeholders including city agencies, communities partners, SFUSD administrators, school board members, school site staff, and students.  School Health Programs staff will continue to use data from the CDC YRBS survey to inform district programs for LGBTQ youth, foster youth, newcomer immigrant/refugee youth, homeless students, addressing the particular needs for outreach, education, assessment, and treatment.


At least every five years the Board will review this policy and update it as necessary.


The Superintendent or designee shall post this policy on the district's web site, in a prominent location and in a manner that is easily accessible to parents/guardians and students. (Education Code 234.6)



Legal Reference:


215  Student suicide prevention policies

32280-32289  Comprehensive safety plan

49060-49079  Student records

49602  Confidentiality of student information

49604  Suicide prevention training for school counselors


810-996.6  Government Claims Act


11164-11174.3  Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act


5698  Emotionally disturbed youth; legislative intent

5850-5883 Mental Health Services Act


Corales v. Bennett (Ontario-Montclair School District), (2009) 567 F.3d 554


Management Resources:


Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve, 2008

Health Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve, 2003


School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth, 2009


Preventing Suicide, Guidelines for Administrators and Crisis Teams, 2015


Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools, 2012

National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action, rev. 2012


American Association of Suicidology:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

American Psychological Association:

American School Counselor Association:

California Department of Education, Mental Health:

California Department of Health Care Services, Suicide Prevention Program:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mental Health:

National Association of School Psychologists:

National Institute for Mental Health:

Trevor Project:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:


Please note that compare references, or “cf,” refer to CSBA model policies and do not necessarily indicate that the San Francisco Unified School District has adopted the referenced policy.

Cross References

This page was last updated on February 16, 2024