NEWTON, MA and NEW YORK, NY | April 20, 2011
A new, free resource, After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools is available to help schools cope in the aftermath of a suicide. The guide was created by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), two of the nation’s leading organizations devoted to suicide prevention.
“Suicide can leave a school struggling with tremendous uncertainty about what to do next,” said Joanne Harpel, AFSP’s senior director for public affairs and postvention. “We also know that schools worry about the possibility of further suicides. This toolkit will answer frequently asked questions and help put school personnel at ease.”
Developed by a team of national experts, including clinicians and crisis response professionals, the online toolkit draws on scientific research and best practices. It includes common warning signs and causes of suicide and emphasizes that schools should inform students about the connection between suicide and underlying disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. It recommends that administrators remind the community about available mental health resources, including hotline numbers and local counseling services.
“Our toolkit also advises schools to treat all student deaths in the same manner, and not to inadvertently romanticize suicide,” said Peggy West of Education Development Center, Inc., a senior advisor for SPRC. “This is especially important as school communities consider how to handle events such as memorial services and graduation, and student activities such as the yearbook.”
Other toolkit recommendations include talking with students in small groups to help them manage their emotional responses and monitoring social media to help identify other students who may be at risk.
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) is a project of Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), a global nonprofit organization addressing challenges in education, health, and economic development. SPRC assists organizations to develop suicide prevention programs, interventions, and policies, and to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. www.sprc.org
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy, as well as to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. www.afsp.org