Step by Step is Samaritans’ postvention service for educational establishments and youth services. It’s one of the ways in which Samaritans works with schools.
Nobody likes to think about a death in school. Yet suicide is a leading cause of death for young people in the UK and ROI. Sadly, it is always a possibility that a student, parent or member of staff might choose to take their own life.
Samaritans Step by Step service is here to support organisations working with young people so that they can respond effectively following the suspected or attempted suicide of someone from within their community; taking practical steps to reduce the risk of further deaths in the area.
Postvention is “the term given to activities and programmes that are intended to assist those who have been bereaved by suicide to cope with what has happened. Suicide prevention and postvention are closely related in that postvention can also prevent further deaths.” (p.3 New Zealand Ministry of Youth Development, ‘Guidance for community organisations involved in suicide postvention’ 2005)
A Postvention Advisor is a specially trained Samaritans volunteer who can offer practical support, guidance and information on responding to a suspected suicide in a school community.
This guide outlines some of the core advice to schools faced with a suspected suicide or attempted suicide. It complements the support that Samaritans volunteers can give to schools in person.
The Help When We Needed it Most booklet gives practical guidance on how to prepare and respond effectively to a suspected or attempted suicide in a school community. The guide outlines our advice on specific issues that may arise, such as memorials and breaking the news to the school community. It aims to support a school in supporting grief and minimising the risk of further suicide. Our Postvention Advisors can provide you and your staff with copies of the booklet.
This information is available online or you can download the full booklet as a PDF.
You can contact the Step by Step team by telephone* 0808 168 2528, email email@example.com, or by using our contact form.
*Calls are free from landlines and some mobile providers
When you call the Step by Step team on the national number, you will get through to the team administrator, who is also a Samaritans listening volunteer. They will put you in touch with two postvention advisors, who will support you in the needs of your school community.
Yes. Step by Step is a suicide response service for educational establishments and youth services.
If you would like support from volunteers at the helpline the details to contact are here
No. Step by Step can be accessed by schools and youth services for free.
Step by Step is a national service, with postvention advisors based across the UK and Republic of Ireland. We work with the 201 local Samaritans branches.
The Help When We Needed it Most booklet gives advice on how teachers can help themselves and their pupils. You may find the Identifying Vulnerable students and the Starting Difficult Conversations sections helpful as a start. If you need any further support or guidance, get in touch with the Step by Step team directly. Telephone* 0808 168 2528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Samaritans don’t give emotional support to young people in the school environment. However, we can support teachers to feel able to support their students themselves. We can also offer schools talks on emotional health.
Can you come into the school and support the staff?
Where appropriate, Samaritans postvention advisors and listening volunteers can come into a school to offer emotional support to staff in the aftermath of a suspected or attempted suicide. We have also produced leaflets to help support staff in supporting their students, which you can access through the Step by Step service.
There are some known risk factors associated with suicide, but there is no definitive list. We know that, for instance, people who have witnessed a suicide previously or been recently bereaved may be at increased risk of suicide, but this does not mean that everyone in these categories will become suicidal, or that people without these experiences will be somehow immune. Suicide is complex and we cannot generalise.
Schools can often access Educational Psychologists and CAMHS to help support them. We have also listed several other organisations that can help schools, families and bereaved individuals after a suicide.
We have had Step by Step evaluated by an external organisation, Sherbert. The report highly commended the Step by Step service and demonstrates how invaluable the service is to schools who are going through such a difficult time and need the advice, reassurance and support to respond to the school community. Some head teachers told the research team that they wouldn’t have got through it without Samaritans. There are instances where head teachers have checked the wording of their assemblies or memorials with Samaritans to ensure that they are sending the right message, and many of our Step by Step volunteers report examples of good practice in addition to what is outlined in the guide.