Safe Schools

Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Published: 9/7/2023 2:30 PM

​​​Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 15 percent of Kentucky high school students (1 in 7) reported having seriously considered suicide within a 12-month period. In addition, 17.4 percent of Kentucky middle school students (nearly 1 in 5) reported that they had seriously considered killing themselves at some point in their lives. However, experts say that suicide can be preventable. When educators, students and communities learn warning signs and how to take action when a young person might be at risk of a suicidal crisis, lives can be saved.

Suicide Prevention Month - 2023.pdf

Guidance for Student Suicide Prevention Delivery

KRS 156.095 requires that all middle and high school students receive suicide prevention information before September 15 of each year. This information shall be provided in person, by live streaming, or via a video recording. However, experts recommend that it is important to tailor the delivery of required suicide prevention training to fit the context of the current situation.

There is no opt-out provision in KRS 156.095(6) that allows for students (or staff) to opt out of the training requirements; however, districts have broad latitude in determining what specific training options are deployed. Districts can use a curriculum purchased from a vendor or downloaded from CHFS. If a parent or staff member has concerns that participating in the training may compromise their mental health, it's recommended that they be provided a safe place to be in during the training process, such as in the school counselor's or social worker's  office, and be provided information on the resources CHFS has made available, such as accessing the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, the 741741 Crisis Text Line, etc.  

In response to Kentucky legislation regarding suicide prevention training and awareness for middle school and high school staff and students, the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities has prepared information about programs, training, and materials. These resources can be found in the ​BHDID Recommendations for School Suicide Prevention Training Toolkit.

Suicide Prevention Education for Middle and High School Staff

KRS 156.095 requires all school district employees with job duties requiring direct contact with students in grades six (6) through twelve (12) to fulfill one hour of high-quality (in-person, live streaming, or video recording) professional development training every year to review suicide prevention. In years that training is not provided, new hires shall be provided suicide prevention materials for review. This training may be included in the four days of professional development under KRS 158.070. KRS 161.011  permits suicide prevention training for classified employees.

​Youth Mental Health First Aid

As part of the Kentucky AWARE Project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services SAMHSA NITT-AWARE grant, the Kentucky Department of Education is currently providing Youth Mental Health First Aid Training. Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. This evidence-based 6-hour certification course gives adults who work with youth the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to adolescents (ages 12-18) who may be in crisis or developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care. Kentucky Department of Education is able to offer the course for free to school and community groups.

​Deborah Sauber
Office of Continuous Improvement and Support
Division of Student Success
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-4772

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