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  1. Postvention is a term used to describe prevention measures implemented after a crisis or traumatic event to reduce the risk to those who have witnessed or been affected by the tragedy. Additional information - http://www.fema.gov/kids/safes6.htm
  2. A suicide, violent or unexpected death of a student, teacher, or even a celebrity can result in an increased risk of suicide for vulnerable students. -
    Source
  3. Suicide postvention strategies are designed to minimize contagions. Additional information - http://www.cdc.gov
  4. School postvention efforts should restore the learning environment. Additional information - http://dpi.wi.gov/sspw/safeschool.html

Give accurate information about suicide

Suicide is a complicated behavior. It is not caused by a single event such as a bad grade, an argument with parents, or the breakup of a relationship.

In most cases, suicide is caused by an underlying mental disorder like depression or substance abuse. Mental disorders affect the way people feel and prevent them from thinking clearly and rationally. Having a mental disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, and help is available.

Talking about suicide in a calm, straight forward manner does not put ideas into an individual's mind.

Address blaming and scapegoating
It is common to try to answer the question “why?” after a suicide death. Sometimes this turns into blaming others for the death.

Do not focus on the method or graphic details
Talking in graphic detail about the method can create images that are upsetting and can increase the risk of imitative behavior by vulnerable youth.

If asked, it is okay to give basic facts about the method, but don’t give graphic details or talk at length about it. The focus should be not on how someone killed themselves but rather on how to cope with feelings of sadness, loss, anger, etc.

REASONS WHY SCHOOLS SHOULD ADDRESS SUICIDE

While everyone who cares for and about young people should be concerned with youth suicide, schools have special reasons for taking action to prevent these tragedies:

  1. Maintaining a safe school environment is part of a school’s overall mission. There is an implicit contract that schools have with parents to protect the safety of their children while they are in the school’s care. Fortunately, suicide prevention is consistent with many other efforts to protect student safety.

    • Many activities designed to prevent violence, bullying, and the abuse of alcohol and other drugs may also reduce suicide risk among students.

    • Programs that improve school climate and promote connectedness help reduce risk of suicide, violence, bullying, and substance abuse.

    • Efforts to promote safe schools and adult caring also help protect against suicidal ideation and attempts among LGB youth.

    • Some activities designed to prevent suicide and promote student mental health can reinforce the benefits of other student wellness programs.

  2. Students’ mental health can affect their academic performance. Depression and other mental health issues can interfere with the ability to learn and can affect academic performance. According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (CDC, 2010b):

    • Approximately 1 of 2 high school students receiving grades of mostly Ds and Fs felt sad or hopeless. But only 1 of 5 students receiving mostly grades of A felt sad or hopeless.

    • 1 out of 5 high school students receiving grades of mostly Ds and Fs attempted suicide. Comparatively, 1 out of 25 who receive mostly A grades attempted suicide.

  3. A student suicide can significantly impact other students and the entire school community. Knowing what to do following a suicide is critical to helping students cope with the loss and prevent additional tragedies that may occur. Adolescents can be susceptible to suicide contagion (sometimes called the “copycat effect”). This may result in the relatively rare phenomenon of “suicide clusters” (unusually high numbers of suicides occurring in a small area and brief time period).

Recognize your own feelings

Talk to others about your feelings. This will help relieve your stress and help you realize that your feelings are shared by other victims.

Accept help from others in the spirit in which it is given. Wouldn’t you help them?

Whenever possible, take time off and do something you enjoy

Get enough rest

Get as much physical activity as possible, such as running or walking

Give someone a hug – touching is very important

Listen when you can to those who are having problems

Share your own feelings about the disaster

Be tolerant of the irritability and short tempers others show – everyone is stressed at this time

Share information on assistance being offered and possible resources


Stories of Hope and Recovery: Terry Wise