How Districts Can Respond to a Student’s Suicide

April 28, 2023

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Education Week

Planning can help schools and districts prepare to respond appropriately to a student suicide. It is critical that schools build this capacity because youth are at increased risk for suicide contagion (i.e., when exposure to suicide or suicidal behavior influences suicidal behavior in others). After a student suicide, experts recommend school staff talk about it as they would any student death and avoid glamorizing it. Schools should also provide mental health support and give students space to grieve. Avoid holding emotional events and memorials at school and limit the time memorial displays remain in place. Help students maintain their routines by encouraging families to hold funerals off school grounds and outside of school hours. Allow the school community to grieve before rolling out new suicide prevention trainings or programs. Before it’s ever needed, districts and schools should create policies on how to respond to a student death, including suicide. Alexandra Karydi, SPRC director of state and community initiatives said, “You should never have to think about how to put out a fire when there’s a fire. You always build the different alarm systems and infrastructure so that if a fire ever happens, everybody knows what to do and has the tools to address the fire.”

Spark Extra! Check out this toolkit to learn how schools can prepare to respond to a student suicide.