Contacting the school community

If a suspected suicide has affected the school community you will need to consider how to inform them. Samaritans’ Step by Step service can advise and assist with this, helping you to draft appropriate communications. Contact us today.

Things to consider when contacting the school community:

While it may not always be possible to immediately ascertain all of the details about the death, confirming as much information as possible is important because speculation and rumours can exacerbate emotional upheaval within the school. If the cause of death has not been confirmed to be suicide, or if the family does not want the cause of death disclosed, it can be challenging for a school to know what to communicate to the school’s community.

If the Family Does Not Want the Cause of Death Disclosed

 

What do parents/carers and all staff need to know?

 

Communicating sensitively and appropriately about suicide

In order to communicate sensitively and appropriately, the information you provide to the school community in the immediate aftermath of suicide should include and reinforce:

  • Facts (not rumours);
  • An understanding that death is permanent;
  • An exploration of normal and wide-ranging reactions to suicide (expressions of anger and guilt are entirely normal);
  • An understanding that, with support, people can cope;
  • An understanding that fleeting thoughts of suicide are not unusual;
  • An awareness of suicidal warning signs and resources available to help;
  • An understanding of funeral expectations.

 

Presenting the information

When discussing any suspected suicide that has occurred, it is strongly recommended that the information given:

  • Is factually correct but does not include detail of the suicidal act itself;
  • Does not romanticise, glorify or vilify the death;
  • Does not include details of any suicide note;
  • Does not include speculation over the motive for suicide.

When parents asked things that were, on the face of it, nonsensical, Samaritans answered them very calmly and never made the parents feel they were asking stupid questions - Head teacher

Next page:

Identifying and supporting vulnerable students