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Pennsylvania Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition

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Schools, Universities & Community Leaders

Dealing with the Aftermath: Educational & Community Leaders

Unfortunately, schools, colleges and communities often must deal with a completed suicide of one of their students or members. Because of this, there must be a comprehensive plan in place, with Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention strategies. "Postvention" is a term that refers to the actions taken after a suicide has occurred to help those affected by the suicide and reduce the risk for copycat suicides.

Without an organized crisis plan, a school may contribute to copycat behaviors by other students.

Proper postvention is suicide prevention. Build a crisis plan now.

Helpful information on how to build a plan that includes prevention strategies and intervention techniques can be found in the comprehensive guide, "School Based Youth Suicide Prevention Guide," developed by the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida, located at http://theguide.fmhi.usf.edu. According to this guide, members of the school crisis team should include a diverse group of individuals within the school, such as the principal, guidance counselor, school psychologists, teacher, and school nurse. In addition, in order to respond effectively to a suicide, schools should share the responsibility for prevention, intervention and postvention with the community.

Postvention Resources

The Pennsylvania Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition has many resources for school administrators in need of help during a suicide crisis. Contact AOASPC for more information. You can also learn about effective prevention training programs in AOASPCs Prevention section.


The State of Maine has developed effective guidelines for schools on how to handle a suicide: www.maine.gov/suicide/myspp/projects/cdc.htm

The American Association of Suicidology offers a complete set of guidelines on communicating with a bereaved family, students, parents and the media: School Suicide Postvention Guidelines, $18, available at www.suicidology.org The guidelines include a sample letter to parents, a sample fact sheet and approaches to challenging issues which may arise.


To learn about the lifesaving QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper Trainings for Schools, Universities and Community Leaders, click here

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