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: www.facebook.com/help/1506822589577997/
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
There is further information about supporting someone online available from Samaritans here.
Guidance on responding to suicidal content online can be found here.
Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We are here to talk through whatever is troubling you, help you find the answers that are right for you and offer support. You can call Samaritans for free from any phone on 116 123, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit samaritans.org/branches to find details of your nearest branch.