School’s Response to Suicide

KCSS

Source of Article:  Kentucky Center for School Safety

A school’s general response to a suicide does not differ markedly from a response to any death. However, some issues exclusive to suicide require specific attention.

School administrators must allow students to grieve the loss of a peer without glorifying the method of death. Over emphasis on a suicide may be interpreted by vulnerable students as a glamorization of the suicidal act. In rare cases this can trigger other individuals with similar tendencies to consider suicide as a viable option.

The following “Do’s” and “Don’ts” will help school staff limit glamorization of suicide:

  • Do acknowledge the suicide as a tragic loss of life
  • Do provide support for students profoundly affected by the death
  • Don’t organize school assemblies to honor the deceased student
  • Don’t dedicate the yearbook or yearbook pages, newspaper articles, proms, athletic events, or advertisements to the deceased individual
  • Don’t pay tribute to a suicidal act by planting trees, hanging engraved plagues or holding other memorial activities

A suicide in the school community can heighten the likelihood, in the subsequent weeks, of “copycat” suicide attempts and threats among those especially vulnerable to the effects of a suicide. To prevent further tragedies, students considered to be especially susceptible to depression/suicide must be carefully monitored and appropriate action taken if they are identified as high risk. These efforts require an intensive one on one intervention rather than a school wide response.

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