Following any death, there is a natural wish to pay tribute to the person who has died. After a suspected suicide, there's a need for careful planning and management of any memorial.
It is important to acknowledge the desire for the memorial but also to recognise the potential risk of glamorising or sensationalising a death rumoured or known to be by suicide.
Some people will want leave flowers, messages or other mementos. The university can take partial control of this by choosing the place where a memorial is sited. Placement of any flowers or memorials needs careful consideration. Temporary memorials should not be placed at the location of the death or in a place that is very public.
Samaritans’ Step by Step service can provide further support and information about memorials.
Social media and online memorials
Institutions cannot control online memorials and other social networking activity following a suspected suicide.
However, staff and students should be warned about the risks of inappropriate messages, warning signs to look out for, what to do if you are concerned with a post or message, and the benefits of online memorials.
Information about memorialised accounts on Facebook can be found here
Some points for consideration to enable a safe response to a suicide and reduce the risk of contagion are:
- educate the community about safe messages and using social networks responsibly
- send out messages signposting to support both within and outside of the university
- link to online resources about coping strategies, self-help and encouraging help-seeking behaviour
- set up a memorial page that is monitored by students or support staff
Guidance on responding to suicidal content online can be found here.