Suicide Awareness & Prevention

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 10 and 24 and accounts for approximately 4,600 lives lost every year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Suicide is a difficult topic to discuss openly and far too often the warning signs are ignored, dismissed or avoided, hindering the capacity to connect someone with thoughts of suicide to help.

safeTALK Suicide Alertness Classes

Check back here for upcoming safeTALK trainings.

Be alert to thoughts of suicide in another person. Learn the four steps to keeping someone with thoughts of suicide safe and connecting them to help by taking a safeTALK class. VCOE Comprehensive Health and Prevention Programs offers a three-hour, no-cost suicide alertness training to schools and community members, called safeTALK. This training prepares anyone age 15 years or older to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.

Powerful video clips, including two that were produced in Ventura County with Ventura County students, illustrate both non-alert and alert responses. Discussion and practice help stimulate learning. Learn steps that contribute to saving lives.

To schedule a free safeTALK training for ANY/ALL school staff, parents or students 15 years and older, contact Kris Trotsky at 805-437-1370 or contact In 2016-17, a $200 stipend will be given (while funding lasts) to non-profit or student groups that host a safeTALK training.

safeTALK is made possible through funding from Ventura County Behavioral Health, Mental Health Services Act, Prevention and Early Intervention.

safeTALK is a product of LivingWorks, an internationally recognized suicide prevention and intervention training company. See more at LivingWorks safeTALK Programs 

Youth Suicide Warning Signs

Much needed attention has been given to developing suicide awareness and prevention programs for youth, such as safeTALK; however, a solid understanding and agreement on the warning signs for youth suicide has never been accomplished. To address this gap in knowledge, a panel of national and international experts convened to help the public better understand the way youth think, feel, and behave prior to making life-threatening suicide attempts and inform them about how to effectively respond. The main goal was to determine what changes immediately preceded suicide attempts or deaths that are supported by research. 

The newly agreed upon list of warning signs and additional resources for how to respond to recognized risk was recently released:

  1. Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  2. Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  3. Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  4. Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
  • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
  • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
  • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability 

More information can be found at Youth Suicide Warning Signs

  1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - A 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress
    * Call a suicide hotline number
    - 877-727-4747 (24 hours/7 days) Adults - Ventura County Suicide Prevention Center Crisis Line
    - 866-431-2478 (24 hours/7 days) Children and Families' Crisis Line
    - 800-273-TALK (24 hours/7 days) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    Trained counselors for free, confidential help
  2. Ventura County Wellness Everyday
  3. Ventura County 211 - Health and human services referral line
  4. Letter from the California Department of Education State Superintendent Tom Torlakson - Information regarding the need for governing boards to establish suicide prevention policies - July 21, 2014
  5. High School Suicide Prevention Toolkit (SAMHSA, June 2012)
  6. After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools
  7. California Department of Education - Youth Suicide Prevention Information - Legislation, publications and additional resources
  8. The Trevor Project: A Model School Policy on Suicide Prevention
    The Trevor Project, a leading national organization, offers a policy model for school districts with recommended language that will address prevention, assessment, intervention and response to youth suicide behavior.
  9. National Institute of Mental Health - A wealth of resources regarding various mental health issues in the U.S. 
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Additional resources and statistics on youth suicide
  11. The Relationship Between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What it Means for Schools (CDC)
  12. Youth Suicide Warning Signs