Act 71 -Suicide Prevention in Pennsylvania

    On June 26, 2014, Act 71 was signed into law in Pennsylvania. This law, which added section 1526 of the School Code, 24 PS § 15-1526, specifically requires school entities to: (1) adopt a youth suicide awareness and prevention policy; and (2) provide ongoing professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention for professional educators in building serving students in grades 6-12. Additionally, section 1526 specifically permits school entities to incorporate curriculum on this topic into their instructional programs pursuant to their youth suicide awareness and prevention polices.

    Act 71 of 2014 also added section 1527 of the School Code, 24 PS § 15-1527. Section 1527 permits school entities to provide age-appropriate instruction regarding child exploitation for students in grades K-8. If a school entity provides this instruction to its students, the school entity must provide professional development related to child exploitation awareness to those educators assigned to teach courses into which child exploitation awareness education has been incorporated. 


    Risk Factors and Warning Signs

    What leads to suicide?

    There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide. Yet it’s important to note that most people who actively manage their mental health conditions lead fulfilling lives.

    Suicide Warning Signs

    Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.


    If a person talks about:

    • Being a burden to others
    • Feeling trapped
    • Experiencing unbearable pain
    • Having no reason to live
    • Killing themselves


    Specific things to look out for include:

    • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
    • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
    • Acting recklessly
    • Withdrawing from activities
    • Isolating from family and friends
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
    • Giving away prized possessions
    • Aggression


    People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

    • Depression
    • Loss of interest
    • Rage
    • Irritability
    • Humiliation
    • Anxiety

    Suicide Risk Factors

    Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.

    Health Factors

    • Mental health conditions
      • Depression
      • Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
      • Schizophrenia
      • Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
      • Conduct disorder
      • Psychotic disorders, or psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder
      • Anxiety disorders
    • Substance abuse disorders
    • Serious or chronic health condition and/or pain

    Environmental Factors

    • Stressful life events which may include a death, divorce, or job loss
    • Prolonged stress factors which may include harassment, bullying, relationship problems, and unemployment
    • Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
    • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide

    Historical Factors

    • Previous suicide attempts
    • Family history of suicide attempts

    Call 24/7     http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/


    Crisis Intervention is the 24 hour emergency mental health service provided by the Dauphin County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities Program. Crisis Intervention staff provide supportive counseling, outreach, assessment, and referral information to individuals experiencing an emotional crisis or difficulty in coping with a personal problem.