Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Logo
Student and Family Support (SFS)

Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training Guidance

Section 12 of An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence1 amended G.L. c. 71 by adding Section 95 (a) which requires all public school districts and commonwealth charter schools to provide at least 2 hours of suicide awareness and prevention training every 3 years to all licensed school personnel, subject to appropriation. In addition, newly hired licensed personnel would be trained within 6 months of being hired. The statute states that the training shall be provided within the framework of existing in-service training programs offered by the department or as part of required professional development activities. Since additional funding for this training has not been appropriated, the training is not required. Nonetheless, the Department is providing this guidance to assist districts interested in designing comprehensive professional development on this issue.

Teachers and other licensed personnel play an extremely important role in suicide prevention. They have day-to-day contact with many students, some of whom have problems that could result in self-harm and/or serious injury, or even suicide. Teachers, in particular, are well-positioned to both observe the behavior of students and to take action when it is suspected that a student might be at risk for self-harm or harm to others.

This guidance was developed using a Safe and Supportive School Framework2. Schools and districts are encouraged to consider using this framework as an organizing tool to provide suicide awareness and prevention training within the context of creating a safe and supportive environment for students. The Framework identified 6 key areas that should be addressed in school wide initiatives such as suicide awareness and prevention training plans.


The MA Department of Public Health's Suicide Prevention Program

The Program provides support to community agencies, education, and training for professionals and caregivers, and funds programs working with youth.

SOS Signs of Suicide

The SOS is an evidence based middle and high school curriculum offered at no cost through the Department of Public Health that teaches students how to identify signs of depression and suicide in themselves and their peers, while providing materials that train school professionals, parents, and communities to recognize at-risk students and take appropriate action. The recently enhanced program reflects feedback from facilitators and students, offers practical advice on coping skills, spotlights the role of social media, and includes stories of hope and recovery.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) is the only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the implementation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. SPRC is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Resources include:

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

The resources and information on this page are designed to help states, territories, tribes, mental health, and substance use disorder professionals, and others looking for information on understanding the background, history, funding opportunities, and implementation resources for strengthening suicide prevention and mental health crisis services.

Hazelden Lifelines

The Hazelden Lifelines® trilogy—Lifelines Prevention, Lifelines Intervention, and Lifelines Postvention—is a comprehensive school-based suicide prevention program whose components address youth suicide from a three-pronged perspective. With the ultimate goal of creating a safe learning environment where all suicide is prevented, Hazelden Lifelines also recognizes that school staff need to be trained to identify and respond to potentially at-risk students and respond in the event a suicide does occur.


1 Chapter 284 of the Acts of 2014

2 The Framework was adapted from the Framework developed by the 2008 Behavioral Health and Public Schools Task Force

Last Updated: June 12, 2023

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.