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Student Suicide: Prevention, Intervention and Postvention

For purposes of this procedural directive, “Student Suicide Prevention” is defined as procedures to prevent, intervene, and respond to youth suicide. In order to accomplish this, Albuquerque Public Schools:

  • recognizes that physical, behavioral, and emotional health is an integral component of a student’s educational outcomes
  • recognizes that suicide is a leading cause of death among young people
  • has an ethical responsibility to take a proactive approach in preventing youth deaths by suicide
  • acknowledges the school’s role in providing an environment, which is sensitive to individual and societal factors that place youth at greater risk for suicide and one that helps to foster positive youth development

General Provisions

This procedural directive applies to the entire school community, including educators, school and district staff, students, parents/legal guardians, community stakeholders, and volunteers.  This procedural directive also covers appropriate school responses to suicidal statements or high-risk behaviors that take place outside of the school environment.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall designate a district level crisis resource counselor position to coordinate suicide prevention, intervention/postvention. Administrators, counselors, nurses and social workers are considered the points of contact in each school for issues relating to suicide prevention and procedural directive implementation. All staff members shall, and students may, refer students they believe to be at elevated risk for suicide to their school counselor or appropriate staff member.


Professional Development

All Albuquerque Public Schools employees working with students shall complete an annual, district-provided training on suicide risk factors, warning signs, protective factors, response procedures, referrals, postvention, and resources regarding youth suicide prevention. The professional development will include information regarding these students at elevated risk for suicide.

Annually, the school principal shall collaborate with the school counselor to ensure that all school employees are advised about of suicide warning signs, Board of Education policies and administrative procedural directives concerning student health and wellness.  

School administrators or counselors may request additional training support through the district crisis resource counselor.

Prevention Programming

Developmentally appropriate, student-centered education materials are available to all levels and embedded in the core content health standards in the middle and high school health classes. In addition to health education, taught in 7th and 9th grade, suicide prevention lessons will be provided by the school counselor in the middle school and in the high school, in at least one other grade level. All suicide prevention lessons must be age-appropriate. The content may include:

  1. the importance of safe and healthy choices and coping strategies
  2. how to recognize risk factors and warning signs of mental disorders and suicide in oneself and others
  3.  help-seeking strategies for oneself or others, including how to engage school resources and refer friends for help or as determined by the school or district counseling department

Schools may provide supplemental small group or classroom, suicide prevention programming for students, which must be pre-approved, by the district counseling department.

Intervention Reporting, Assessment and External Referral

When an employee, peer or another source, identifies a student during school hours as potentially suicidal, the student must remain with an adult and be seen by a school counselor within the same school day to determine the need for, and facilitate an emergency referral, if necessary. If the school counselor is not available, the reporting person shall report the information to the school nurse.  If the nurse is not available, the social worker shall intervene. If there is not a qualified person on campus to complete the emergency referral, the school shall contact the APS District Crisis Resource Counselor and/or Counseling Department. APS school counselors, nurses, and social workers will complete the “APS Suicide Protocol” for any potentially suicidal student. Same-day emergency suicide assessments for students will be offered at no cost to families, if funding is available.  These assessments are performed through a qualified outside agency contracted for that purpose. The assessment may determine if the student is at risk of immediate self-harm and provides appropriate recommendations to the parent/legal guardian.

All employees will follow the APS Staff Process for Off-Campus Outside School Hours for Potentially Suicidal Student. To ensure the safety of the student, the APS employee should contact: parents or legal guardians, APS Police or Albuquerque Police Department, and/or school or district department administration, as deemed appropriate for the situation. In all instances, the APS employee should endeavor to first contact parents or legal guardians. All district and school site employees shall receive this information annually.  

Parent/Legal Guardian Notification and Involvement

When a student has been found to be at risk for suicide or has made a suicide attempt, the school counselor, nurse, or social worker shall inform the student’s parent/legal guardian immediately. When the parent/legal guardian cannot be reached by the school, emergency contacts, school administration, or law enforcement shall be utilized to assist in locating the parent/guardian.

Each time the school counselor, nurse, or social worker interviews a student for possible suicide ideation, the parent/legal guardian will be notified on the same day of the interview.

Follow Up Procedures

 When notified of a suicide attempt, a school counselor, the principal, or designee should meet with the student’s parent/legal guardian, and meet with the student to discuss re-entry. The meeting may address appropriate next steps to ensure the student’s readiness for return to school and plan for the first day back. If the student states they are still experiencing suicide ideation, the student will be referred for another emergency assessment.


Postvention is a concept related to the prevention of subsequent suicides, provision of mental health services, and the community response following a suicide or a traumatic event. A postvention strategy is an active intervention conducted after a student death, largely taking the form of support for the bereaved (family, friends, professionals and peers) and impacted community. Albuquerque Public Schools requires the development of postvention plans that meet the emotional needs of the grieving community and brings stability to the school community. Schools should utilize their Site Safety Plan to support active postvention activities.


For further information and resources on this topic, please consult:

  • Erika’s Lighthouse
  • The Jason Foundation
  • Contributing Groups for the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention:
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • American School Counselor Association
  • National Association of School Psychologists
  • The Trevor Project

Administrative Position:               

  • Associate Superintendent, Equity, Instruction, Innovation, and Support

Department Director:                    

  • Executive Director of Student, Family, and Community Supports
  • Senior Director of Counseling


Legal Cross Ref.:                        

  • NMAC 6.12.6
  • NMAC 6.29.6

Board Policy Cross Ref.:          

  • JL Student and Staff Wellness and Welfare

Procedural Directive Cross Ref.:                   

  • Student and Staff Wellness: Coordinated School Health Approach

Approved: March 2004
Revised: August 2008
Reviewed: September 24, 2010
Reviewed: October 15, 2010
Reviewed: November 8, 2010
Revised: November 12, 2010
Reviewed: July 23, 2014
Revised: July 24, 2014
Reviewed: May 17, 2016
Revised: May 27, 2016
Reviewed and Repealed: August 11, 2021
Revised and Replaced: August 27, 2021