Youth Suicide Postvention

​Postvention refers to the provision of systematic crisis intervention, support, and assistance for those affected by a completed suicide. Suicide postvention strategies are designed to minimize contagion. Postvention services provide appropriate emotional support and information to those affected by suicide.

General suicide postvention guidelines for schools:

  • Plan in advance of any crisis
  • Select and train a crisis team
  • Verify report of suicide from collaboration with the medical examiner, police, and family of the deceased
  • Do not dismiss school and do not encourage funeral attendance during school hours.
  • Do not dedicate a memorial (i.e., yearbook, tree, bench).
  • Do contribute to a suicide prevention effort on behalf of the school or community.
  • Do contact the family, apprise them of the school's intervention efforts, and assist with funeral arrangements.
  • Do not release information in a large assembly or over intercom systems. Disseminate information to faculty, students, and parents. Always be truthful.
  • Follow the victim's classes throughout the day with discussion and counseling.
  • Arrange for counseling rooms in the school building and provide individual and group counseling.
  • Collaborate with media, law enforcement, and community agencies.
  • Points to emphasize with media and parents: prevention, no one thing or person is to blame, help is available.
  • Provide counseling or discussion opportunities for the faculty.

From: Poland, S. (1989). Suicide intervention in the schools. New York: Guildford. ISBN: 0898622328; and American Association of Suicidology-www.suicidology.org

Key components of systematic suicide postvention planning are the set of written procedures (prepared in advance) and the identification of a postvention crisis team that has been trained in advance of a suicide. As part of the planning in advance, specific crisis response duties are assigned to specific team members (e.g., communication with family, students, and parents; media liaison). Additional information about postvention strategies for school personnel may be obtained on the "Related Sites" section of this web page.

Contact Information

April Turner, Ph.D., NCSP
School Psychological Services Supervisor
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-2595
410-767-0288 office
410-333-8418 fax

Lynne Muller
Section Chief, Student Services and School Counseling Specialist
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-2595
410-333-8148 (fax)