After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools | 11 o o Mental health and medical communities and grief support organizations – To plan for student, staff, and community needs • • Arrange for outside trauma responders, if necessary, and brief them as they arrive on scene. Funeral • • Communicate with the funeral director about logistics for students and staff attending the services, including the need for crisis counselors and/or security to be present at the funeral. • • Encourage the family to hold the funeral off of school grounds and outside of school hours if at all possible. • • Be sensitive to the needs and wishes of different religious, ethnic, and racial groups that may be involved in the funeral. • • When possible, discuss with the family the importance of communicating with clergy/religious leaders, or whoever will be conducting the funeral, to ask if they are comfortable mentioning something about the struggles the student was having. When appropriate, include mental health concerns. While ultimately this is the family and religious leader’s decision, an informed discussion should occur where the family and religious leader are made aware of the benefits of providing this information as a way to promote understanding about suicide as well as to reduce possible contagion. • • Depending on the family’s wishes, help disseminate information about the funeral to students, parents, and staff, including: o o Location o o Time of the funeral (keep school open if the funeral is during school hours) o o What to expect (e.g., whether there will be an open casket) o o Guidance regarding how to express condolences to the family o o Policy for releasing students during school hours to attend (i.e., students will be released only with permission of parent, guardian, or designated adult) o o Procedures for staff who want to attend (i.e., excused time away, getting substitute teachers) • • Work with school mental health professionals and community mental health professionals to arrange for counselors to attend the funeral. • • Encourage parents to accompany their child to the funeral. Media Relations • • Designate a media spokesperson to field media inquiries using the tool Key Messages for Media Spokesperson. • • Prepare a media statement. • • Advise staff that only the media spokesperson is authorized to speak to the media. • • Advise students to avoid interviews with the media. • • Refer media outlets to Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide.