Suicidal Behavior Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors

Protective Factors

  • Current plan to kill self
  • Current suicidal ideation
  • Access to lethal means
  • Previous suicide attempts 
  • Family history of suicide
  • Exposure to suicide by others
  • Recent discharge from psychiatric hospitalization
  • History of mental health issues (major depression, panic attacks, conduct problems)
  • Current drug/alcohol use
  • Sense of hopelessness
  • Self-hate
  • Current psychological/emotional distress
  • Loss (relationship, work, financial)
  • Discipline problems
  • Conflict with others (friends/family)
  • Current agitation
  • Feeling isolated/alone
  • Current/past trauma (sexual abuse, domestic violence)
  • Bullying (as an aggressor or as victim)
  • Discrimination
  • Severe illness/health problems
  • Impulsive or aggressive behavior
  • Unwilling to seek help
  • LGBTQ+, Native-American, Alaskan Native, Male

  • Engaged in effective health and/or mental health care
  • Feel well connected to others (friends, family, school)
  • Positive problem solving skills
  • Positive coping skills
  • Restricted access to lethal means
  • Stable living environment
  • Willing to access support/help
  • Positive self esteem
  • Resiliency
  • High frustration tolerance
  • Emotion regulation
  • Cultural and/or religious beliefs that discourage suicide
  • Does well in school
  • Has responsibility for others

* Keep in mind, a person with an array of protective factors in place can still struggle with thoughts of suicide.






Suicide Response Protocol

Warning signs that may indicate an immediate danger or threat:

  • Someone who has already taken action to die by suicide
  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Someone looking for ways to die by suicide- seeking access to pills, weapons, or other means
  • Someone talking, joking, or writing about death, dying, or suicide

Strong Staff Response

If a suicidal attempt, gesture, or ideation occurs or is recognized, staff will ensure the continuous supervision of the student and report it to a school suicide screener or school administrator right away. If there is imminent danger, call 911. A Suicide Screening is performed by a trained school staff member. The screener will do the following:

  • Interview the student using the SSD Suicide Response Protocol
  • Complete a Student Safety Plan, if needed
  • Contact parent/guardian to inform and gather additional information
  • Determine need for a referral to higher level of care based on level of concern and noted risk factors through the Suicide Screening
  • Consult with another trained screener prior to making a decision regarding level of care
  • Inform administrator of screening results

Trained School Staff Members

Only trained school staff members should act as screeners and safety planning. Examples of trained screeners in your school are:

  • School Counselors
  • Mental Health Specialists
  • Mental Health Care Coordinators

If you are uncertain who the specific trained screeners are in your building, ask your building administrator.

School Re-Entry Procedure

For students returning to school after a mental health crisis (e.g. Unable to stay in school do to suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt or psychiatric hospitalization), a school employed counselor or mental health professional, the principal, or designee, will meet with the student’s parent or guardian, and if appropriate, with the student to discuss re-entry and appropriate next steps to ensure the student’s safe return to school.

A school employed counselor or mental health professional, or other designee will be identified to coordinate with the student, their parent or guardian, and any outside mental health care providers.

The school will request that the parent or guardian provide documentation from the hospital or mental health provider and/or sign a release of information to allow the school to share information with the hospital or outside mental health provider.

The designated staff person will periodically check in with the student to help the student readjust to the school community and address any ongoing concerns.

Suicide Postvention

The district flight team will implement an action plan to guide the school response in the event of a death by suicide in the school community, in accordance with the district flight team manual and postvention best practices. A copy of the Flight Team Manual is available for viewing at Sherwood District Office.