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New DPI Suicide Prevention Curriculum Available for K - 12 Schools

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The DPI’s suicide prevention curriculum for grades 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12 is now available on the suicide prevention webpage. The curriculum is skill-based and addresses the WI Health Standards (WI), Mental and Emotional Health Standards (MEH), Healthy Behavior Outcomes (HBO), as well as connecting to the American School Counselor Association ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors.

This new curriculum is completely different and replaces the previous curriculum. Districts and educators will want to implement a suicide prevention curriculum because in addition to being required by law, it focuses on positive mental health skills and strategies.

There are many excellent suicide prevention curricula available, however DPI’s curricula ensures that the required content explicit in the law is embedded and aligns with WI Health Education standards. Another positive aspect about the curricula is that it uses a skills based approach which is designed to provide skill cues and support skill development and practice. The curricula also focus on how students interact with and respond to peers who exhibit or communicate struggling behaviors.

We know from the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), that when youth are asked who they are most likely to seek out for emotional support, students are most likely to turn to a friend or sibling (42.8%), compared to 23.9% of students who said they'd reach out to a parent, teacher, or other adult. The time to address these needs is now: 10-year trends show that rates of considering suicide and making a plan about suicide have increased significantly.

The suicide prevention curriculum is provided to support schools in meeting the PI 8.01(2)(j)1 requirement that schools must educate students on suicide prevention in health education. DPI’s curriculum includes instruction on the educational goals and expectations set forth in Wisconsin State Statute (WI 118.01). The suicide prevention curriculum selected and implemented by schools must instruct on “the skills needed to make sound decisions, knowledge of the conditions which may cause and the signs of suicidal tendencies, knowledge of the relationship between youth suicide and the use of alcohol and controlled substances under ch. 961 and knowledge of the available community youth suicide prevention and intervention services. Instruction shall be designed to help prevent suicides by pupils by promoting the positive emotional development of pupils.”

Curriculum implementation trainings are available for professionals implementing or supporting suicide prevention instruction. Participants will learn about and interact with the newly developed DPI Suicide Prevention Curriculum for elementary, middle, and high school, along with best practices for implementation and resources available to support suicide prevention.

Training is voluntary with eight opportunities across the state to participate this spring and summer. The training flyer provides detailed information on dates, locations, and costs. Reach out to the site contact for registration and event questions. Contact Andréa Donegan,, for questions specific to the suicide prevention curriculum and implementation.