Pediatric health clinicians and all adults who work with youth have opportunities to engage in youth suicide prevention initiatives in their communities. Cross-sectoral partnerships are critical to supporting youth in all places that they live, learn, work, and play.

This section of the Blueprint provides strategies and concrete examples to help pediatric health clinicians, schools, and other community partners work together toward youth suicide prevention efforts. The ideas outlined in this section of the Blueprint are intended to work within large-scale comprehensive approaches to suicide prevention, including those outlined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Efforts are needed to address disparities in youth suicide risk

To equitably address suicide prevention in community and school settings, it is critical to recognize and address disparities in how mental health symptoms and behavioral problems are recognized and managed.

Youth have disparate opportunities and experiences in school and community settings, due to wide variation in social factors, community resources, and structural forces such as systemic racism and discrimination.

Youth may face additional barriers to mental health support in schools/communities based on many factors:

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Special health care needs, including mental health conditions
  • Language differences
  • Involvement in the child welfare system
  • Under-resourced schools

Note: Suicide rates are not directly tied to race, gender, or any other social construct. Rather, youth may experience discrimination or long-standing health, social, or systemic inequities that may impact their development and risk for suicide.

For example, Black students and American Indian/Alaska Native students are more likely to receive a disciplinary response to mental health-related behavior changes than white students who are more likely to receive support and referral to mental health services, contributing to a phenomenon known as the “school to prison pipeline."

Solutions include training for staff using a trauma-informed approach and sustained efforts to address inequities in the school and other settings. For more information on disparities in suicide risk, see the Youth Suicide Prevention: Strategies for Clinical Settings section of this Blueprint.

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American Academy of Pediatrics