(Suicide Prevention)

Mental  Health  and  Social/
Emotional  Wellness

The Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) shall promote student well-being and academic engagement by prioritizing social emotional wellness (SEW) as a critical component of improving school climate, safety, and learning and to provide school leaders with best practices for creating and fostering a socially and emotionally healthy school environment for all students and staff.  Non-exhaustive components of this approach include:

A.  Developing and implementing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies across the curriculum and within entire school environments to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and to equitably meet the needs of all students.

B.  Utilizing trauma-informed practices aimed at helping our students feel safe, connected, and equipped to learn.

C.  Fostering peer-to-peer connections so students feel heard, validated, and supported.

D.  Incorporating restorative discipline practices that use varied and appropriate disciplinary methods in response to mental health concerns, with an emphasis/effort to avoid over-reliance on suspensions and/or expulsions. 

E.  Developing and using referral mechanisms that effectively link students to intervention services in the school and treatment services in the community.

F.  Developing strategies to promote a positive school environment.

G.  Maintaining models for school-based collaboration, coordination, and consultation.

H.  Using an Individual Crisis Response Protocol for student support professionals when responding to concerns about a student’s safety or the safety of others.

I.  Creating a safe, caring environment characterized by adult/student interactions that convey mutual trust, support, and respect.

J.  Modeling and promoting positive interpersonal and professional relationships among teachers, staff, students, and families.

K.  Encouraging quality, sustained involvement and engagement of family and community members in the school.

L.  Partnering with students’ families in fostering the social, academic, and intellectual success of each student.

M.  To the extent possible, matching students with an adult advocate who has similar lived experiences to advise and individualize the educational and school experience for each student.

N.  Coordinating with community agencies for the delivery of culturally responsive social, physical, and mental health services to meet the needs of students and their families.

O.  Implementing scheduling and student grouping practices that are flexible, meet each student’s needs, and ensure successful academic growth and personal development.

P.  Ensuring teachers know how to identify warning signs for teen suicide, how to address these situations, and how to effectively communicate with students and families by using tiered state and District-approved suicide awareness and prevention trainings and other available resources.

Q.  Any identified components that align with this policy.

The Tempe Union High School District Social and Emotional Wellness Committee (SEW) shall articulate recommendations that promote student well-being and academic engagement by prioritizing SEW as a critical component of improving school climate, safety, and learning and to provide school and District leaders with best practices for creating a safe and nurturing school environment, supporting the physical and mental health of students, fostering their social and emotional well-being, and being prepared to address teen suicide through effective communication and support.

Suicide  Prevention

Prevention and intervention-based work will address and integrate social health, emotional health, mental health, behavioral health, physical health, suicide prevention, safe inclusive students' climates for violence prevention, including intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and assault prevention, bullying and cyber-bullying prevention, emergency preparedness, school safety, substance abuse, and the unique needs of pregnant and parenting students.  Safe and effective messaging about resilience, risk factors and warning signs contained in materials and resources are reviewed to ensure they align with best practices intended to save lives (e.g., promote hope, connectedness, social support, resilience, treatment and recovery).  These efforts will create a safe and supportive learning environment that optimizes academic outcomes for all students. 

The District's SEW Coordinator will serve as the suicide prevention coordinator.  Together the District suicide prevention coordinator and campus principals shall be responsible for planning and coordinating implementation of this policy for the District.  Each principal shall designate a school suicide prevention coordinator to act as a point of contact in each school for issues relating to suicide prevention and policy implementation.  This may be an existing staff person such as an administrator, school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, or other as deemed appropriate by the suicide prevention coordinator.  The school suicide prevention coordinator must be trained in an evidence-based suicide intervention model.

The Tempe Union High School District recognizes that suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages ten (10) through thirty-four (34).  TUHSD will protect the health and well-being of all students, staff, and families by having procedures in place to prevent, assess the risk of, intervene in and respond to suicide as well as to enhance resiliency in youth.  In accordance with A.R.S. §15-120 (also known as the Mitch Warnock Act), all TUHSD staff will participate in a best practice suicide awareness training every three (3) years.  All District staff will receive training on, and will follow procedures for, reporting at-risk students to the appropriate person on their campus for further intervention.  Students will have access to developmentally appropriate, small group, best practice suicide prevention education and materials to learn how to recognize the risk factors and warning signs for suicide and how to seek help appropriately.  Families will have access to suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention education and resources provided by the District.  Parents/guardians/families will be informed by a school administrator or counselor if their student is identified as being at-risk for suicide.  Student re-entry procedures will be followed for students returning to school after a mental health crisis.


Staff Professional Development

Professional development regarding suicide prevention and awareness (in accordance with the Mitch Warnock Act and up-to-date best practices) that is evidence-based shall be provided to all certificated and classified staff who are charged with the academic and social/emotional well-being of students.  The professional development sessions (whether in person or online) shall be provided on an annual basis.  Short-term and long-term substitutes shall be required to participate as part of the TUHSD Human Resources hiring process.

In addition to the required trainings set forth by the Mitch Warnock Act, at least annually, all staff shall receive training on the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, suicide prevention, intervention, referral, and postvention.  All suicide prevention trainings shall be under the supervision of school-employed mental health professionals who have received advanced training specific to suicide and may benefit from collaboration with community mental health agencies.

At a minimum, all staff shall participate in training on the core components of suicide prevention (identification of suicide risk factors and warning signs, prevention, intervention, referral, and postvention) at the beginning of their employment.

Staff training may be adjusted from year to year based on previous professional development activities and emerging best practices.

Core components of the general suicide prevention training shall include:

A. Suicide risk factors, warning signs, and protective factors;

B. How to talk with a student about thoughts of suicide;

C. How to respond appropriately to the youth who has suicidal thoughts (such responses shall include constant supervision of any student judged to be at risk for suicide and an immediate referral for a suicide risk assessment);

D. Emphasis on immediately referring (same day) any student who is identified to be at risk of suicide for assessment while remaining under constant monitoring by staff member; and

E. Emphasis on reducing stigma associated with mental illness and that early prevention and intervention can drastically reduce the risk of suicide.

In addition to initial orientations to the core components of suicide prevention, ongoing professional development for all staff shall include the following components:

A. The impact of traumatic stress on emotional and mental health;

B. Emphasis on stigma reduction and the fact that early prevention and intervention can drastically reduce the risk of suicide;

C. Common misconceptions about suicide;

D. School and community suicide prevention resources;

E. Appropriate messaging about suicide (correct terminology and safe messaging guidelines);

F. The factors associated with suicide (risk factors, warning signs, protective factors);

G. How to identify youth who may be at risk of suicide;

H. Appropriate ways to interact with a youth who is demonstrating emotional distress or is suicidal, specifically, how to talk with a student about their suicidal thoughts and (based on District guidelines) how to respond to such thinking;

I. District-approved procedures for responding to suicide risk (including multi-tiered systems of support and referrals);

J. District-approved procedures for responding to the aftermath of suicidal behavior;

K. Responding after a suicide occurs (suicide postvention);

L. Resources regarding youth suicide prevention; and

M. Emphasis that any student who is identified to be at risk of suicide is to be immediately referred (same day) for assessment while being constantly monitored by a staff member.

Professional development shall include additional information regarding all groups of students at elevated risk for suicide, including but not limited to:

A. Those historical groups living with mental and/or substance use disorders;

B. Those who engage in self-harm or have attempted suicide;

C. Those in out-of-home settings (e.g., youth in foster care, group homes, incarcerated youth, homelessness);

D. American Indian/Alaska Native students;

E. LGBTQ+ students;

F. Students bereaved by suicide;

G. Those with medical conditions or certain types of disabilities; and

H. Those who have suffered traumatic experiences.

Additional training in risk assessment and crisis intervention shall be provided to school staff including administrators, school counselors, psychologists, social workers, etc.

Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum

Under the supervision of school-employed or District-partnered mental health professionals, and following consultation with community mental health partners, students shall:

A. Receive developmentally appropriate, student-centered education about the warning signs of mental health challenges and emotional distress; 

B. Receive developmentally appropriate guidance regarding the District's suicide prevention, intervention, and referral procedures.  The content of the education shall, at a minimum, include:

a. Coping strategies for dealing with stress and trauma;

b. Emphasis on reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and the fact that early prevention and intervention can drastically reduce the risk of suicide;

c. How to recognize behaviors (warning signs) and life issues (risk factors) associated with suicide and mental health issues in oneself and others; and

d. Help-seeking strategies for oneself and others, including how to engage school-based and community resources and refer peers for help.

The District will support the creation and implementation of programs and/or activities on campus that raise awareness about mental wellness and suicide prevention (e.g. Mental Health Awareness Weeks, Peer Counseling programs, Freshman Success programs, and campus clubs).

Curriculum related to suicide prevention (i.e., risk factors) will not be delivered to a large group in an auditorium setting.  The District may partner with local experts to provide this curriculum to students as long as it is delivered according to best practices and ensures the safety of all participants.

Community Education

Suicide prevention education, training, and written materials will be available to students’ families and the community at large. The District will include suicide prevention resources on District and individual school websites.  When available, education on topics such as suicide awareness and other mental health topics will be provided to the community throughout the school year.  In accordance with A.R.S. §15-160, the District will print the phone number for Teen Lifeline and national hotlines such as the 988 national suicide and crisis lifeline on the back of all student identification cards.  These numbers will serve as additional resources for students and their families in times of crisis.

The family remains most students' primary system of care.  The family/education system partnership is critical, not only to students' mental wellness but also to their academic success.  Using "family partnerships" instead of "parental involvement" communicates to families their important role in working with the school to nurture their child's success both emotionally and academically.  At a minimum, schools shall share with parents/guardians/families the District's suicide prevention policy and procedures.  This suicide prevention policy shall be prominently displayed on the District's web page and included in the parent handbook.  Parents/guardians/families shall be invited to provide input on the development and implementation of this policy.

Intervention and Referral

When a student is identified by a peer, educator or other source as potentially suicidal — i.e., verbalizes thoughts about suicide, presents overt risk factors such as agitation or intoxication, self-harms, or expresses or otherwise shows signs of suicidal ideation — the student shall be seen by a District-employed mental health professional such as a school psychologist, school counselor, school social worker, or Care 7 Youth Specialist within the same school day to assess risk and facilitate referral if necessary.  Educators who become aware of written threats and expressions about suicide and death in school assignments shall immediately refer such incidents to the appropriate District-employed mental health professional.  If there is no mental health professional available, a designated staff member who has completed a suicide intervention training program (e.g., school nurse or administrator) shall address the situation according to District protocol.

A.  School staff shall continuously supervise the student to ensure their safety until the assessment process is complete.

B.  The principal and the school suicide prevention coordinator shall be made aware of the situation as soon as reasonably possible.

C.  The District-employed mental health professional or principal shall contact the student’s parent/guardian/family in compliance with existing state law/district policy and shall assist the family with urgent referral.

D.  Urgent referral may include, but is not limited to, working with the parent/guardian/family to set up an outpatient mental health or primary care appointment and conveying the reason for referral to the healthcare provider.  In some instances, particularly life-threatening situations, the school may be required to contact emergency services or arrange for the student to be transported to the local emergency facility.

E.  If parental abuse or neglect is suspected or reported, the appropriate state protection officials (e.g., local child protection services) shall be contacted in lieu of parents pursuant to state law.

F.  Staff will ask the student’s parent/guardian/family, and/or eligible student, for written permission to discuss the student’s health with outside care providers, if appropriate.

A referral process shall be provided to all staff members so they know how to respond to a crisis and are knowledgeable about school and community-based resources.

The Superintendent, or designee, shall establish crisis intervention procedures to ensure student safety and appropriate communications if a suicide occurs or an attempt is made by a student or adult on campus or at a school-sponsored activity.

Parents, Guardians, and Families

A referral process shall be available to all parents/guardians/families so they know how to respond to a crisis and are knowledgeable about school and community-based resources.


Students shall be encouraged to notify a staff member when they are experiencing emotional distress or suicidal ideation or when they suspect or have knowledge of another student's emotional distress, suicidal ideation, or attempt.

Re-entry to School After a Suicide Attempt

A student who threatened or attempted suicide is at a higher risk for suicide in the months following the crisis.  School and District staff shall utilize the District's Individual Crisis Response protocols to support students with re-entry to school.  Having a streamlined and well-planned re-entry process ensures the safety and wellbeing of students who have previously attempted suicide and reduces the risk of another attempt.  An appropriate re-entry process is an important component of suicide prevention.  Involving students in planning for their return to school provides them with a sense of control, personal responsibility, and empowerment.


The District Suicide Prevention Coordinator, or designee, shall ensure that each school site adopts a suicide postvention response plan for responding to a suicide death as part of the general crisis response plan.  The plan shall incorporate both immediate and long-term steps and objectives.

The District Crisis Response Team (CRT), led by a designated crisis response coordinator, shall initiate a crisis response plan to guide school response following a death by suicide.  This plan is applicable to all school community-related suicides whether it be student (past or present), staff, or other prominent school community member.  A meeting of the Team to implement the plan shall take place immediately following knowledge of the suicide death, even if the death has not yet been confirmed to be a suicide.  The CRT shall then be responsible for enacting the following action items:

A.  Get the facts:  The CRT shall confirm the death and determine the cause of death through communication with the student’s parent/guardian/family, the coroner's office, local hospital, or police department.

B.  Assess the situation:  The CRT shall meet to prepare the postvention response according to the crisis response plan.  The Team shall consider how the death is likely to affect other students and staff and determine which students are most likely to be affected.

C.  Share information:  Inform faculty and staff that a sudden death has occurred, preferably in an all-staff meeting.  The CRT shall provide a written statement for staff members to share with students and also assess staff’s readiness to provide this message in the event a designee is needed.  With permission of the family, the statement shall include the basic facts of the death and known funeral arrangements (without providing details of the suicide method), recognition of the sorrow the news will cause, and information about the resources available to help students cope with their grief.  Avoid public address system announcements and school-wide assemblies in favor of face-to-face notifications, including small-group and classroom discussions.

D.  Avoid suicide contagion:  The CRT shall work with teachers to identify students who are most likely to be significantly affected by the death or who exhibit behavioral changes indicating increased risk.  In the staff meeting, the CRT shall review suicide warning signs and procedures for referring students who present with increased risk.

E.  Initiate support services:  Students identified as being more likely to be affected by the death will be assessed by a school mental health professional to determine the level of support needed.  The CRT shall coordinate support services for students and staff in need of individual and small group counseling as needed.  The CRT may invite outside agencies to assist (mobile crisis teams, Teen Lifeline) in the support of students, faculty, and community members.

F.  Develop memorial plans:  Avoid planned, on-campus physical memorials (e.g., photos, flowers, locker displays), funeral services, or tributes as that may inadvertently sensationalize the death and encourage suicide contagion among vulnerable students.  Spontaneous memorials may occur from students expressing their grief.  Cards, letters, and pictures may be given to the student's family after being reviewed by school administration.

Multi-Tiered  Systems  of  Support

TUHSD supports the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) model or approach.  All six (6) high schools shall establish MTSS teams.  These teams are designed to provide targeted support to struggling students with a focus on the "whole child."  The MTSS supports academic growth and achievement and also the behavioral, social and emotional needs of students through evidence-based strategies.  This school-wide approach to student support involves administrators, teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, school nurses, social workers, behavior interventionists, Care 7 Youth Specialists, drop-out prevention coordinators, academic interventionists, parent liaisons, Deans of Students, School Resource Officers (SRO) and other specialists who work as teams when they assess students and plan interventions.

This policy shall be reviewed and/or revised, as appropriate, at least annually in conjunction with school-employed mental health professionals (e.g., school counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, administrators, other school staff members, parents/guardians/families, students, local health agencies and professionals, law enforcement, and community organizations).  The Social and Emotional Wellness Committee, or the Superintendent or designee, shall deliver regular updates to the Governing Board or at least once every academic year.

Adopted:  December 14, 2022


ABA - Community Involvement in Education
ABAA - Parental Involvement
AC - Nondiscrimination/Equal Opportunity
BBA - Board Powers and Responsibilities
IA - Instructional Goals and Objectives
JB - Equal Educational Opportunities
JICK - Student Violence/Harassment/Intimidation/Bullying 
JK - Student Discipline
JL - Student Wellness