How schools cope after a tragedy like suicide
March 13, 2015
In the aftermath of a student’s death by suicide, staff and other students face several challenges at once: they must cope with their own emotions, answer questions from parents and the media, and try to minimize the risk that other children will be emotionally triggered to attempt suicide themselves. Postvention teams are available in many communities to help in this situation, providing counselors to meet with both teachers and students. Shelby Rowe, manager of education and prevention programs for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, explained that it is important for all members of the school community to be able to share memories of the student, express their emotions, and get the facts straight instead of relying on rumors. Postvention experts can also offer guidance to administrators on working with reporters, and on finding ways to memorialize the deceased student without inadvertently seeming to glamorize his or her death. “A lot of schools do community walks, at a high school or a university,” said Rowe, “or do some other community activity to honor the life of that person.”
Spark Extra! After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools is designed to assist schools in the aftermath of a suicide (or other death) in the school community.