When a Friend Dies by Suicide: Preventing Suicide Contagion

February 18, 2022

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Announcement


After a student dies by suicide, parents and school staff can take important steps to reduce suicide risk among their classmates. These include acknowledging the loss but not discussing details of how the person died or what may have caused it, and not suggesting suicide is a solution to problems. To help students heal, it is important that the school community honor the student who died without suggesting suicide is a way to get attention or affection. Parents should check in regularly with their kids and ask them how they are feeling, and practice self-care to ensure their distress does not affect their kids. According to experts, students who are most at risk after a classmate’s suicide death may not necessarily be their close friends but those who were previously struggling with their mental health. “To reduce other students’ risk, the emphasis should be on suicide prevention,” said Kimberly O’Brien, clinical social worker in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Boston Children’s Hospital

Spark Extra! Check out After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools.