This easy, clear guide on how a school should respond to a suicide is from the site of Emergency Management Resource Guide of Kentucky Center for School Safety in the United States.
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. Overemphasis 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 “Dos” and “Don’ts” will help school staff limit the 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, prom, athletic events or advertisements to the deceased individual.
Don’t pay tribute to a suicidal act by planting trees, hanging engraved plaques 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 must be taken if they are identified as high risk. These efforts require an intensive one-on-one intervention rather than a schoolwide response.