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Suicide is a complex public health challenge involving many biological, psychological, social, and cultural determinants. Suicide is often preventable, and LBUSD is committed to investing energy, resources, time and intent to supporting those on our campus who may be thinking of suicide or know someone who has died by suicide. This webpage and the resources referenced are intended to instill hope, provide clarity, and foster deeper understanding of steps to prevent suicide in our youth.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, youth suicide accounts for more deaths in the United States than all natural causes combined among 15–24 year-olds and is currently the second leading cause of death for youth . More specifically, the suicide death rate (which had been stable from 2000-2007) for youth aged 10–24 increased 56% from 2007 through 2017 (3,4). Particularly significant to note is that suicide rates increased significantly in 42 states and nonsignificantly in 8 states, demonstrating the widespread effects of suicide across the entire nation. Every day, 3,500 adolescents attempt suicide and 35 of them die. Eleven percent of high school students have made at least one suicide attempt, while 40 percent have indicated serious suicidal thoughts. In 2019, 47,511 Americans died by suicide with an additional 1.38 million suicide attempts. Rates of suicide attempts by LGBTQ+ youth are 4 times higher than identified heterosexual cisgender youth, and are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, overdose or harm requiring medical intervention.
In 2017, 4,323 Californians (adults and youth) died by suicide. Predictions suggest that 108,075 Californians attempted suicide and over 1.1 million expressed persistent thoughts of suicide in 2017. In 2017, half of all suicides in California were reported in 5 counties: Los Angeles (21%), Orange (10%), Riverside (8%), San Bernardino (6%), and San Diego (5%) (8).
Schools are ideal settings to address the topic of suicide and attempt to prevent adolescent suicide because the school provides an environment capable of reaching the largest number of students and therefore represents the highest likelihood that a student potentially at risk for suicidal behavior will be exposed to a prevention strategy. A plan that implements a systematic approach has the potential to increase both emotional and academic performance stability
LBUSD’s comprehensive approach to suicide prevention includes establishing policies and procedures, training staff, providing information and in school support for students, disseminating information to parents and the community, employing screening tools, responding appropriately to suicide attempts and deaths, and capturing data to drive interventions.
A Few Basic Facts About Suicide
- Research has demonstrated that in over 80% of suicides, warning signs were given.
- Suicide crosses all socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Suicide IS often preventable. Not every death is preventable, but many are.
- Suicidal behavior should not be dismissed as "attention getting" or "manipulative"; it may be a serious cry for help. People who talk about suicide DO kill themselves.
- We must take every threat seriously.
- Most suicidal youth do not really want to die; they want to escape their pain and may see no other alternative course of action.
- Youth who are discriminated against or victimized because of physical differences, sexual orientation, or other reasons are at higher risk for attempting suicide.
- Any trained individual can greatly increase the likelihood of a youth getting the help they need and may very well make the difference between life and death.