After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools | 5 Crisis Response When a school receives the news that one of its students has died by suicide, the first step is to make sure this news is true. In this age of social media and smartphones, it is easy for rumors to spread. • • School staff should immediately confirm the death of a student. • • Upon confirmation, the school should immediately implement a coordinated crisis response to achieve the following: o o Effectively manage the situation o o Provide opportunities for grief support o o Maintain an environment focused on normal educational activities o o Help students cope with their feelings o o Minimize the risk of suicide contagion Mobilize a Crisis Response Team It is most effective for schools to have an identified Crisis Response Team set up and ready to respond to a crisis before one occurs. This team is responsible for implementing the elements of your school’s crisis response plan. Before a crisis occurs, find out whether your school district has a Crisis Response Team that can provide additional support to your school if needed. Many districts have a Crisis Response Team to handle larger crisis events, with each school having its own Crisis Response Team. This allows schools to pull from the district-wide team if they require additional support staff to meet the needs of their staff and students in the aftermath of a suicide. A district team is also beneficial if the school’s Crisis Response Team is emotionally impacted in a way that makes it difficult for team members to engage in postvention activities effectively, or if they need extra support. Depending on the size of the school or district, the school Crisis Response Team should have at least 5 or 6 people (but no more than 15), chosen for their skills, credentials, and ability to work compassionately and effectively under pressure with all members of the school community. Ideally the team will be a combination of administrators, counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, and school resource officers. It can also be useful to include a member of the school’s information technology staff to help with social media. The team should have the ability to work with all of the cultures represented by the students and their families. If You Have Used Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools Note: Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools uses the term “Suicide Response Team.” In this toolkit on postvention, we use “Crisis Response Team” instead because this term is now more widely known, accepted, and used in school safety plans. Some schools have a Suicide Response Team that is part of a larger Crisis Response Team. Even if you have a Suicide Response Team, consider mobilizing the entire Crisis Response Team after a suicide, since effective postvention requires the expertise, roles, and knowledge of the entire team.