After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools | 16 • • Exercise • • Think about how they have coped with difficulties in the past and remind themselves that they can use those same coping skills now • • Write a list of people they can turn to for support • • Write a list of things they are looking forward to • • Focus on personal goals, such as returning to a shared class or spending time with mutual friends Often, youth will express guilt about having fun or thinking about other things. They may feel that they somehow need permission to engage in activities that will help them feel better and take their mind off the stressful situation. Encourage students to think about how they want to remember their friend. Ideas may include writing a personal note to the family, attending the memorial service, creating a memory book, or doing something kind for another person in honor of their friend. Be sure to educate students about the school’s guidelines regarding memorialization. Acknowledging their need to express their feelings while helping them identify appropriate ways to do so can begin the process of returning their focus to their daily lives and responsibilities. Schools, in partnership with community mental health resources, might also consider creating drop-in centers that provide a safe and comfortable place for youth to be together after school hours. These can be staffed by volunteer counselors and clinicians from the community who can provide grief counseling, as well as identify and refer youth who may need additional mental health or substance abuse services. These centers can also be used during times of particularly heightened emotion, such as graduation or the anniversary of a student’s death. Reach Out to Parents Parents may need guidance on how to talk about suicide with their children and how best to support them at this difficult time. They may also need reliable information such as that found in Facts about Suicide in Adolescents, Youth Warning Signs and What to Do in a Crisis, and Tips for Talking about Suicide. Encourage parents to contact school mental health staff if they are concerned about their children or other students. Anniversary of the Death The anniversary of the death (and other significant dates, such as the deceased’s birthday) may stir up emotions and can be an upsetting time for some students and staff. It is helpful to anticipate this and provide an opportunity to acknowledge the date, particularly with those students who were especially close to the student who died. These students may also need additional support since mourning can be a long-term process, and an anniversary of a loss can trigger the grief and trauma they experienced at the time of the death. For more resources on helping students cope, see Appendix B: Additional Resources.