Suicide Prevention

The Texas Youth Behavior and Risk Survey (YBRS) indicates a 10-year trend of rising rates of suicide attempts, sadness and hopelessness among Texas youth.Suicide prevention is a critical goal of the Best Practice Resource List. Suicide prevention is reinforced by best practices across all topics including: mental health promotion, prevention, intervention, social and emotional learning skills, positive youth development, trauma-informed practices and a positive school climate.. The approved suicide prevention resources on this list include components that provide for training counselors, teachers, nurses, administrators, law enforcement officers social workers and other school staff who regularly interact with students to:

  1. Recognize students at-risk of suicide;
  2. Recognize students who are, or may be the victims, or who engage in bullying;
  3. Recognize students displaying early warning signs and a possible need for early mental health or substance abuse intervention, which warning signs may include declining academic performance, depression, anxiety, isolation, unexplained changes in sleep or eating habits, and destructive behavior toward self or others; and
  4. Intervene effectively with students at-risk or with early warning signs, by providing notice and referral to a parent or guardian so appropriate action, such as seeking mental health or substance abuse services may be taken by a parent or guardian.

A school district should annually assess its needs and develop strategies for improvement of student performance that include methods for addressing the needs of students for special programs, including suicide prevention. 

In accordance with TEC Section 11.252 (3)(B)(i), a school district must identify methods for addressing the needs of students for suicide prevention, including a parental/guardian notification procedure, in accordance with the best practice list below created under the Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 161. Include strategies and methods for suicide prevention in campus and district improvement plans.

The Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Section 153.1013, on the requirements for suicide prevention training is available for review.  The TAC identifies the schedule for providing training to educators and outlines the requirements for keeping records of each educator trained.

Best practice strategies for suicide prevention training developed under TEC Section 21.451 and Health and Safety Code Section 161.325 are on the following list.

Approved Suicide Prevention Training List for Schools: 

 Youth Mental Health First Aid *

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is an 8-hour face-to-face course that trains participants how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training includes: risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems; information on depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, and addiction disorders; a 5-step action plan to help someone developing a mental health problem or in crisis; and where to turn for help – professional, peer, and self-help resources. While there is MHFA for both adults and youth, the Youth MHFA is version of training that is the recommended for schools. YMHFA teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and use their strengths to stay well. 

Training for educators is funded by the State of Texas. Schools and districts should contact your Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA) to request free training in Mental Health First Aid, . LMHAs and ESCs may also coordinate delivering the training to serve school districts and charter schools.  Coordination between ESCs and LMHAs is a best practice.  Please contact your ESC YMHFA Contact or the TEA program contact for more information.

Tip: While districts and charters may determine that YMHFA provides sufficient suicide prevention training for educators in recognizing the warning signs and making appropriate referrals to school counselors and mental health specialists, counselors and mental health specialists in schools, at a minimum, would benefit from additional suicide prevention training and should review the supplemental resources that are cited below the recommended list.

ASK about Suicide to Save a Life Gatekeeper Training
ASK about Suicide to Save a Life is a gatekeeper training that can be modified between 1-3 hours, based on the needs of the trainees. It is similar to Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) and is a best practice training that was developed in Texas, with Texas specific data, resources and information. Participants have opportunities to learn the warning signs, protective and risk factors about suicide. They will learn how to ask people directly about suicidal thoughts and behaviors and how to refer them to appropriate help. There are trainings offered across Texas, as well as an online video of two ASK Master Trainers teaching a sample course for an hour. There are also accompanying power point presentation materials.

At-Risk (Kognito)
At-Risk is a one hour online training for Elementary, Middle School, and High School educators. This online, interactive professional development program uses virtual role-play to help school faculty, staff, and administrators learn common signs of psychological distress and how to approach an at-risk student for referral to the school counselor.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
ASIST is founded on the principle that everyone can make a difference in preventing suicide. During the two-day interactive session, participants learn to intervene and help prevent the immediate risk of suicide.

Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) Gatekeeper Training
QPR Gatekeeper Training is three steps that anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives.

safeTALK is a 4-hour gatekeeper training and excellent tool for people who want to become alert to the dangers of suicide in a convenient timeframe. Although formal caregivers such as social workers and counselors employ safeTALK skills, the program is also used by students, teachers, community volunteers, first responders, military personnel, police, public and private employees, and professional athletes – among many others.

Plan, Prepare, Prevent: The SOS Signs of Suicide Online Gatekeeper Training

The intended audience for this course is middle and high school staff members, or staff at other organizations looking to deepen their understanding of youth mental health and considering implementing an evidence-based prevention program. The module provides contextual information about mental illness, suicide, and risk and protective factors, and teaches participants to recognize and respond to the warning signs of depression and suicide. The course takes approximately 90 minutes to complete, and has videos and interactive quizzes throughout the three sections. The course offers contact hours for licensure for school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors. It also offers a Certificate of Completion for anyone who finishes the course.

Lifelines Intervention: Helping Students at Risk for Suicide

The Lifelines Curriculum is one component in Lifelines Intervention: Helping Students at Risk for Suicide, a comprehensive, schoolwide suicide prevention program for middle and high school students. The goal of the overall Lifelines Intervention is to promote a caring, competent school community in which help-seeking is encouraged and modeled and suicidal behavior is recognized as an issue that cannot be kept secret. The curriculum consists of four 45-minute or two 90-minute lessons that incorporate elements of the social development model and employ interactive teaching techniques, including role-play. Health teachers and/or guidance counselors teach the lessons within the regular school health curriculum.

Supplemental Resources 

The comprehensive resources below are supplemental to the approved training list above. These resources are recommended for review by school counselors, social workers, other mental health specialists and administrators to develop plans to  implement Safer Schools with Zero Suicide:

A Comprehensive Approach to Suicide Prevention – A supplemental prevention framework *

Effective suicide prevention is comprehensive: it requires a combination of efforts that work together to address different aspects of the problem after staff training.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center highlights nine strategies that form a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention and mental health promotion. Each strategy is a broad goal that can be advanced through an array of possible activities (i.e., programs, policies, practices, and services). As schools plan for required suicide prevention training, and for ongoing suicide prevention, consider the strategies, programs and practices of this comprehensive approach.

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools

This toolkit developed by SAMHSA assists high schools and school districts in designing and implementing strategies to prevent suicide and promote behavioral health. The toolkit includes tools to implement a multifaceted suicide prevention program that responds to the needs and cultures of students.

Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM)

This course explains why means restriction is an important part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. It will teach you how to ask suicidal patients/clients about their access to lethal means, and work with them and their families to reduce their access.

Texas Suicide Safer Schools Implementation Guide and Tools

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Mental Health America of Texas and the Texas Suicide Prevention Council collaborated in 2015 to produce the Suicide Safer Schools (SSS) in Texas report which was made available to all Texas schools. The goal of this report was to create a state of the art report for suicide safer schools by presenting meaningful and practical recommendations for Texas public schools K-12. The report was further designed to inform Texas educators about the incidence of youth suicide and to emphasize the responsibility of school leadership to increase suicide awareness, enhance protective factors, build resilience in students, and intervene and get help for a suicidal student.

Postvention resources

After a Suicide: Toolkit for Schools (pdf.)

Help and Hope for Survivors of Suicide Loss (pdf.)

Suicide Prevention and “Postvention” toolkit (pdf.)

Crisis Lines  

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
A free, confidential, 24-hour hotline, to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. An Online confidential chat is also available at

800-273-TALK (8255)
TTY: 800-799-799-4TTY (4889), then press 1
Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio (888) 628-9454

Crisis Text Line 
 A free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis.
         Text 741741 to connect to a counselor.

Additional Information 
School Districts and open-enrollment charter schools may also select programs through an independent review of online suicide prevention training materials that comply with the guidelines developed by TEA. The training must be offered online. 

See the Educator Preparation Programs (EPP) Resources link for specific information and training that is approved for educators seeking a certificate in accordance with TEC Section 21.0044(c-1).

If you have any additional questions on suicide prevention training, please contact the TEA Mental Health/Behavioral Health Coordinator.  


 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2017 data. Retrieved From: 

Contact Information
Julie Wayman, Mental/Behavioral Health Coordinator