Youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system, especially those in residential facilities, have higher rates of suicide than their non-system-involved peers (Gallagher & Dobrin 2006). Suicide prevention efforts by this system should begin at the initial point of entry and be coordinated to protect youth at every step along the way. This guide, developed by the Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, discusses suicide prevention practice components across the following points of contact: referral/arrest, courts, probation, detention and secure/non-secure care, facilities, and aftercare.

This report also addresses performance-based standards for juvenile correction and detention facilities and describes a comprehensive suicide prevention program for juvenile facilities that involves the following components: training; identification, referral, and evaluation; communication; housing (safe environment), levels of observation, follow-up, and treatment planning;  intervention (emergency response); reporting and notification; and mortality-morbidity review.

The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) originally maintained this resource. The NCYOJ was operated by Policy Research, Inc. and operated from 2001 to 2022 and was formerly known as the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. The NCYOJ improved life opportunities for youth through systems and practice improvement initiatives.

This resource should be viewed as a reference document. It has not been updated since its publication. In addition, this document has not been made 508 compliant. If you would like a 508 compliant version of this document, please email

This resource was first shared in 2013.

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