Skip to Content

Resources :: Guide :: Research in an educational setting :: State and federal law :: Reporting suicide threats

Reporting Suicide Threats

This section specifically summarizes reporting regulations for public schools; for a more complete discussion, please see Suicide Threat.

Who should report?
If you are licensed as administrative or instructional personnel by the Board of Education and employed by a local school board, you are legally responsible to report suicidal intentions. Not all education researchers will fit the legal requirements for reporting suicidal intentions.  However, as a researcher you are under ethical obligation to act in the best interest of your participants. If you are unsure as to the best course of action, take immediate action to consult with an appropriate school administrator or with the student's teacher.

If the nature of your study is such that participants are more likely to report suicidal intentions, you will be required to explain in your protocol how you will handle such a situation.  Please note that some survey instruments ask about suicidal intentions, such as the BDI-II.

How do I report?
Each school division is required to have resources for the treatment of their students. Contact a school administrator immediately and refer them to the situation. The school will have a licensed mental health professional who is qualified to assess and provide appropriate crisis intervention for the student.

For more information about reporting requirements, the Virginia Board of Education published Suicide Prevention Guidelines: 22.71-272.1 Code of Virginia which outlines the legal reporting requirements, defines criteria for assessing suicidal intentions, and provides case examples.

Previous :: Reporting child abuse
Next :: Reporting illegal or unsafe behavior