Florida School Toolkit for K-12 Educators to Prevent Suicide

understand the word suicide, and I wanted him to hear the complete story from me not from someone else. 52. What do you think of the fact that, after the third suicide of a student from the same high school, the principal had an assembly and the main speaker was a grieving parent who spoke emotionally about the loss of their child to suicide? O ne of the biggest problems in suicide prevention is that we do not talk enough about how to prevent suicide and that it is everyone’s responsibility; however, the ideal way to talk to students about suicide prevention is individually, in a small group, or in a classroom where students will be likely to ask questions and school staff can get a read of how they are experiencing the information. I was instrumental in getting a statement on page 30 of the After a Suicide: Toolkit for Schools cautioning against assemblies after a suicide for the reason outlined above, and to avoid glamorization of the suicide victim. Survivors drive suicide prevention in our country, as they do not want anyone else to lose a loved one to suicide. I was asked to speak about prevention, in Idaho, and was told that a mother who lost her child to suicide recently would speak before me. I wondered what tone she might set and whether we would hear a long agonizing story. She did not tell an emotional story but did show a picture of her child and emphasized this is why suicide prevention is so important. 53. How can schools help survivors of suicide? S upporting students who have lost a friend or a loved one to suicide is very challenging. The support that a student needs is beyond what a school counselor can provide. It is important that schools refer to practitioners skilled in supporting families affected by suicide. Survivor groups—where everyone attending lost a loved one to suicide—have provided the most support to suicide survivors. A number of survivors have told me that when they went to a general loss group they felt out of place when they shared that their loved one died by suicide; not in an accident, not from cancer. A few major cities have suicide survivor groups for teens. S chools need to know the best support for survivors available in the community, and personnel, such as school counselors, should check frequently on the student affected by a suicide, and their parents. There can be an anniversary date to suicide, and schools need to reach out to survivors in the days before the anniversary of the suicide and offer support. 54. What was an outstanding postvention activity that you were involved in? I commend a district in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for all of their postvention efforts after a suicide cluster, but one specific example comes to mind. The Academy 20 district had gone many months without a suicide of a Discovery Canyon student, but, sadly, one more suicide occurred. The district mobilized quickly and, on the second evening after the most recent suicide, they scheduled a webinar for parents about how to support their children and prevent suicide. More than 700 parents attended either online or at the high school. My partner Rich Lieberman and I provided the webinar. The district partnered with community resources and provided extensive prevention information for school personnel, students, and parents. They also created a full-time suicide prevention position for the district. 167