Suicide Prevention Policy



Board Approved: June 13, 2023

The Board of Directors of Connecting Waters Charter Schools (“CWCS” or “Charter Schools”)
recognizes that suicide is a major cause of death among youth and should be taken seriously. To
attempt to reduce suicidal behavior and its impact on students and families, the Board of Directors
has developed prevention strategies and intervention procedures.

In compliance with Education Code section 215, this policy has been developed in consultation
with CWCS and community stakeholders, CWCS school-employed mental health professionals
(e.g., school counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses), administrators, other school staff
members, parents/guardians/caregivers, students, local health agencies and professionals, the
county mental health plan, law enforcement, and community organizations in planning,
implementing, and evaluating CWCS’s strategies for suicide prevention and intervention. CWCS
must work in conjunction with local government agencies, community-based organizations, and
other community supports to identify additional resources.

To ensure the policies regarding suicide prevention are properly adopted, implemented, and
updated, CWCS shall appoint an individual (or team) to serve as the suicide prevention point of
contact for CWCS. The suicide prevention point of contact for CWCS and the Executive Director
shall ensure proper coordination and consultation with the county mental health plan if a referral is
made for mental health or related services on behalf of a student who is a Medi-Cal beneficiary.
This policy shall be reviewed and revised as indicated, at least annually in conjunction with the
previously mentioned community stakeholders.

Staff Development
CWCS, along with its partners, has carefully reviewed available staff training to ensure it promotes
the mental health model of suicide prevention and does not encourage the use of the stress model
to explain suicide.

Training shall be provided for all school staff members. It may also be provided, when appropriate,
for other adults on campus (such as substitutes and intermittent staff, volunteers, interns, and
tutors,). Training shall include the following:

1. All suicide prevention trainings shall be offered under the direction of mental health
professionals (e.g., school counselors, school psychologists, other public entity
professionals, such as psychologists or social workers) who have received advanced
training specific to suicide. CWCS has collaborated with community mental health
agencies to review the training materials and content to ensure it is evidence-based,

evidence-informed, and aligned with best practices.
2. Staff training may be adjusted year-to-year based on previous professional development
activities and emerging best practices.

3. CWCS shall ensure that training is available for new hires during the school year.

4. At least annually, all staff shall receive training on the risk factors and warning signs of
suicide, suicide prevention, intervention, referral, and postvention.

5. 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 or annually.

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 staying under constant monitoring by staff
e. Emphasis on reducing stigma associated with mental illness and that early
prevention and intervention can drastically reduce the risk of suicide.
f. Reviewing the data annually to look for any patterns or trends of the prevalence or
occurrence of suicide ideation, attempts, or death. Data from the California School
Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (Cal-SCHLS) should also be analyzed to
identify school climate deficits and drive program development. See the Cal-
SCHLS Web site at
g. Information regarding groups of students judged by the school, and available
research, to be at elevated risk for suicide. These groups include, but are not limited
to, the following:
i. Youth affected by suicide.
ii. Youth with a history of suicide ideation or attempts.
iii. Youth with disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse disorders.
iv. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning youth.
v. Youth experiencing homelessness or in out-of-home settings, such as
foster care.
vi. Youth who have suffered traumatic experiences.

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

a. The impact of traumatic stress on emotional and mental health.
b. Common misconceptions about suicide.
c. CWCS and community suicide prevention resources.
d. Appropriate messaging about suicide (correct terminology, safe messaging
e. The factors associated with suicide (risk factors, warning signs, protective factors).
f. How to identify youth who may be at risk of suicide.
g. Appropriate ways to interact with a youth who is demonstrating emotional distress
or is suicidal. Specifically, how to talk with a student about their thoughts of suicide
and (based on CWCS guidelines) how to respond to such thinking; how to talk with
a student about thoughts of suicide and appropriately respond and provide support
based on CWCS guidelines.
h. CWCS-approved procedures for responding to suicide risk (including multi-tiered
systems of support and referrals). Such procedures should emphasize that the
suicidal student should be constantly supervised until a suicide risk assessment is
i. CWCS-approved procedures for responding to the aftermath of suicidal behavior
(suicidal behavior postvention).
j. Responding after a suicide occurs (suicide postvention).
k. Resources regarding youth suicide prevention.
l. Emphasis on stigma reduction and the fact that early prevention and intervention
can drastically reduce the risk of suicide.
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.

Specialized Professional Development for School-based Mental Health Staff (Screening
and/or Assessment

Additional professional development in suicide risk assessment (SRA) and crisis intervention is
provided to designated student mental health professionals, including but not limited to school
counselors, psychologists, social workers, administrators, and nurses employed by CWCS.
Training for these staff is specific to conducting SRAs, intervening during a crisis, de-escalating
situations, interventions specific to preventing suicide, making referrals, safety planning, and re-

Specialized Professional Training for targeted School-based mental health staff includes the
following components:
Best practices and skill building on how to conduct an effective suicide risk screening/SRA
using an evidence-based, Charter-approved tool; Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9)
Depression Scale; BSS Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation ; National Institute of Mental

Health (NIMH)’s Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) Toolkit; and the Adolescent
Suicide Assessment Protocol – 20.

Best practices on approaching and talking with a student about their thoughts of suicide and
how to respond to such thinking, based on district guidelines and protocols.
Best practices on how to talk with a student about thoughts of suicide and appropriately
respond and provide support based on district guidelines and protocols.
Best practices on follow up with parents/caregivers.
Best practices on re-entry.

Employee Qualifications and Scope of Services

Employees of CWCS must act only within the authorization and scope of their credential or
license. While it is expected that school professionals are able to identify suicide risk factors and
warning signs, and to prevent the immediate risk of a suicidal behavior, treatment of suicidal
ideation is typically beyond the scope of services offered in the school setting. In addition,
treatment of the mental health challenges often associated with suicidal thinking typically requires
mental health resources beyond what schools are able to provide.

Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers Participation and Education
1. Parents/guardians/caregivers may be included in suicide prevention efforts. At a minimum,
CWCS shall share this Policy with parents/guardians/caregivers by notifying them where a
complete copy of the policy is available.
This Suicide Prevention Policy shall be easily accessible and prominently displayed on the
CWCS Web page and included in the student/parent handbook.

2. Parents/guardians/caregivers should be invited to provide input on the development and
implementation of this policy.

3. CWCS shall establish and widely disseminate a referral process to all
parents/guardians/caregivers/families, so they are aware of how to respond to a crisis and
are knowledgeable about protocols and school, community-based, and crisis resources.

4. Community-based organizations that provide evidence-based suicide-specific treatments
shall be highlighted on the CWCS’s website with treatment referral options marked

5. Staff autoreplies during vacations or absences shall include links to resources and
phone/text numbers so parents and students have information readily available.

6. All parents/guardians/caregivers may have access to suicide prevention training that
addresses the following:

a. Suicide risk factors, warning signs, and protective factors.
b. How to talk with a student about thoughts of suicide.
How to respond appropriately to the student who has suicidal thoughts. Such responses
shall include constant supervision of any student judged to be at risk for suicide and
referral for an immediate suicide risk assessment.
c. CWCS’s referral processes and how they or their children can reach out for help,

7. Parents/guardians/caregivers are reminded that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy
Act (“FERPA”) generally protects the confidentiality of student records, which may
sometimes include counseling or crisis intervention records. However, FERPA’s health or
safety emergency provision permits the disclosure of personally identifiable information
from a student’s education records, to appropriate parties, in order to address a health or
safety emergency when the disclosure is necessary to protect the health or safety of the
student or other individuals.

CWCS 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
Week, Peer Counseling, Freshman Success, and National Alliance on Mental Illness on Campus
High School Clubs).

Intervention and Emergency Procedures

CWCS designates the following administrators to act as the primary and secondary suicide prevention

1. School Guidance Counselor or School Psychologist

2. Executive Director

Whenever a staff member suspects or has knowledge of a student’s suicidal intentions, they shall
promptly notify the primary designated suicide prevention liaison, who is available by phone
during school hours, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm. If this primary suicide prevention
liaison is unavailable, the staff shall promptly notify the secondary suicide prevention liaison. If
neither is available, the staff member should call 911.

The suicide prevention liaison shall immediately notify the Executive Director or designee, who
shall then notify the student’s parent/guardian as soon as possible if appropriate and in the best
interest of the student. Determination of notification to parents/guardians/caregivers should follow
a formal initial assessment to ensure that the student is not endangered by parental notification.

The suicide prevention liaison shall also refer the student to mental health resources at CWCS or
in the community.

When a student is in imminent danger (has access to a gun, is on a rooftop, or in other unsafe
conditions), a call shall be made to 911. The call shall NOT be made in the presence of the student
and the student shall not be left unsupervised. Staff shall NOT physically restrain or block an exit.

When a suicide attempt or threat is reported on campus or at a school-related activity, the staff
member (if the student is attending a vendor activity, the parent is the contact) who is with the student shall
at a minimum:
Work under the guidance of the suicide prevention liaison to:
1. Ensure the student’s physical safety by one or more of the following, as appropriate:

a. Securing immediate medical treatment if a suicide attempt has occurred.
b. Securing law enforcement and/or other emergency assistance if a suicidal act is
being actively threatened.
c. Keeping the student under continuous adult supervision until the parent/guardian
and/or appropriate support agent or agency can be contacted and has the
opportunity to intervene.
d. Remaining calm, keeping in mind the student is overwhelmed, confused, and
emotionally distressed.
e. Moving all other students out of the immediate area.
f. Not sending the student away or leaving him/her alone, even to go to the restroom.
g. Providing comfort to the student, listening and allowing the student to talk and
being comfortable with moments of silence.
h. Promising privacy and help, but not promising confidentiality.

2. Document the incident in writing as soon as feasible.

3. Follow up with the parent/guardian and student in a timely manner to provide referrals to
appropriate services as needed and coordinate and consult with the county mental health
plan if a referral is made for mental health or related services on behalf of a student who is
a Medi-Cal beneficiary. Determination of notification to parents/guardians/caregivers
should follow a formal initial assessment to ensure that the student is not endangered
by parental notification.

4. After a referral is made, CWCS may verify with the parent/guardian that the follow up
treatment has been accessed. Parents/guardians will be required to provide documentation
of care for the student. If parents/guardians refuse or neglect to access treatment for a
student who has been identified to be at risk for suicide or in emotional distress, the suicide
prevention liaisons may meet with the parent to identify barriers to treatment (e.g., cultural
stigma, financial issues) and work to rectify the situation and build understanding of care.
If follow up care is still not provided, CWCS may contact Child Protective Services.

5. Provide access to counselors or other appropriate personnel to listen to and support
students and staff who are directly or indirectly involved with the incident at CWCS.

6. Provide an opportunity for all who respond to the incident to debrief, evaluate the
effectiveness of the strategies used, and make recommendations for future actions.

In the event a suicide occurs or is attempted on the CWCS campus, the suicide prevention liaison
shall follow the crisis intervention procedures contained in CWCS’s safety plan. After consultation
with the Executive Director or designee and the student’s parent/guardian about facts that may be
divulged in accordance with the laws governing confidentiality of student record information, the
Executive Director or designee may provide students, parents/guardians, and staff with
information, counseling, and/or referrals to community agencies as needed. CWCS staff may
receive assistance from CWCS counselors or other mental health professionals in determining how
best to discuss the suicide or attempted suicide with students.

In the event a suicide occurs or is attempted off the CWCS campus and unrelated to school
activities, the Executive Director or designee shall take the following steps to support the student:

1. Contact the parent/guardian and offer support to the family.

2. Discuss with the family how they would like CWCS to respond to the attempt while
minimizing widespread rumors among teachers, staff, and students.

3. Obtain permission from the parent/guardian to share information to ensure the facts
regarding the crisis are correct.

4. The suicide prevention liaisons shall handle any media requests.

5. Provide care and determine appropriate support to affected students.

6. Offer to the student and parent/guardian steps for re-integration to school. Re-integration
may include obtaining a written release from the parent/guardian to speak with any health
care providers; conferring with the student and parent/guardian about any specific requests
on how to handle the situation; informing the student’s teachers about possible days of
absences; allowing accommodations for make-up work (being understanding that missed
assignments may add stress to the student); appropriate staff maintaining ongoing contact
with the student to monitor the student’s actions and mood; and working with the
parent/guardian to involve the student in an aftercare plan; providing
parent’s/guardians/caregivers/families local emergency numbers for after school and
weekend emergency contacts.

Supporting Students during or after a Mental Health Crisis

Students shall be encouraged through the education program and in CWCS activities to notify a
teacher, the Executive Director, another CWCS administrator, psychologist, CWCS counselor, or
other adult when they are experiencing thoughts of suicide or when they suspect or have
knowledge of another student’s suicidal intentions. CWCS staff should treat each report seriously,
calmly, and with active listening and support. Staff should be non-judgmental to students and
discuss with the student, and parent/guardian, about additional resources to support the student.

Responding After a Suicide Death (Postvention)

A death by suicide in the school community (whether by a student or staff member) can have
devastating consequences on the school community, including students and staff. CWCS shall
follow the below action plan for responding to a suicide death, which incorporates both immediate
and long-term steps and objectives:

The suicide prevention liaison shall:

1. Coordinate with the Executive Director to conduct an initial meeting with the school
Guidance Counselor or school Pyschologist to:

a. Confirm death and cause.
b. Identify a staff member to contact deceased’s family (within 24 hours).
c. Enact the Suicide Postvention Response.
d. Notify all staff members (ideally in-person or via phone, not via e-mail or mass

2. Coordinate an all-staff meeting, to include:

a. Notification (if not already conducted) to staff about suicide death.
b. Emotional support and resources available to staff.
c. Notification to students about suicide death and the availability of support services
(if this is the protocol that is decided by administration).
d. Share information that is relevant and that which you have permission to disclose.

3. Prepare staff to respond to needs of students regarding the following:

a. Review of protocols for referring students for support/assessment.
b. Talking points for staff to notify students.
c. Resources available to students (on and off campus).

4. Identify students significantly affected by suicide death and other students at risk of
imitative behavior, and refer them to a school-based mental health professional.

5. Identify students affected by suicide death but not at risk of imitative behavior.

6. Communicate with the larger school community about the suicide death. Staff shall not
share explicit, graphic, or dramatic content, including the manner of death.

7. Consider funeral arrangements for family and school community.

8. Respond to memorial requests in respectful and non-harmful manner; responses should be
handled in a thoughtful way and their impact on other students should be considered.

9. Identify media spokesperson if needed.

10. Ensure that all communications, documents, materials related to messaging about suicide
avoid discussing details about method of suicide, avoid oversimplifying (i.e. identifying
singular cause of suicide), avoid sensational language, and only includes clear, respectful,
people-first language that encourages an environment free of stigma. As part of safe
messaging for suicide, we use specific terminology when referring to actions related to
suicide or suicidal behavior:


“Died by suicide”
“Took their own life”

Do Not Use:

“Committed suicide”
Note: Use of the word “commit” can
imply crime/sin


“Attempted suicide”

Do Not Use:

“Successful” or “unsuccessful”
Note: There is no success, or lack of
success, when dealing with suicide

11. Include long-term suicide postvention responses:

a. Consider important dates (i.e., anniversary of death, deceased birthday, graduation,
or other significant event) and how these will be addressed.
b. Support siblings, close friends, teachers, and/or students of deceased.
c. Consider long-term memorials and how they may impact students who are
emotionally vulnerable and at risk of suicide.

Student Identification Cards

CWCS will include the telephone numbers on all student identification cards:
 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/Suicide Crisis Lifeline:
o Call or Text “988”
o Call 1-800-273-8255
 National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233
 Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741
 Teen Line: Text “TEEN” to 839863
 Trevor Project: Text “START” to 678678
 Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
 Local suicide prevention hotline telephone number

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