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State Boards Can Be Lead Policy Actors in Preventing Youth Suicide


Alexandria, VA – Between 2007 and 2017, the suicide rate among young people ages 10-24 rose by 56 percent, making it the second leading cause of death in the United States for this age group. State boards of education can be leaders in addressing youth suicide by collaborating on model policies that help ensure students have the proper supports and learning environments to thrive, says NASBE Director of Safe and Healthy Schools Megan Blanco in a new analysis.

According to the NASBE State Policy Database on School Health, as of the 2017–18 school year, 25 states and the District of Columbia required or encouraged school districts to adopt suicide prevention policies.

State boards looking to develop suicide prevention policies can start by bringing together officials from the education and health sectors to encourage cross-sector collaboration. It is also important to ask specific questions about best practices, prevention efforts already under way, and statewide data on correlations between suicide rates and other variables and within student subgroups. The Hawai’i state board, for example, has convened a working group of diverse stakeholders to explore the policies and factors contributing to youth suicide. The working group plans to release a report detailing its findings and policy recommendations later this year.

“State boards can address student wellness through myriad levers in partnership with state education and health agencies,” writes Blanco. “Developing research-informed suicide prevention policy, grounded in sound implementation infrastructure, pushes states one step closer to guaranteeing that all students have safe, healthy, equitable learning environments. Most important, it saves lives.”

Read Developing Policy to Prevent Youth Suicide.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.

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