After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools | 19 Local Government A student suicide death may reveal an underlying community-wide problem, such as drug or alcohol use, bullying, gang violence, or a possible suicide cluster. Because schools function within—not separate from—the surrounding community, local government entities, such as the mayor’s office, can be helpful partners in promoting dialogue and presenting a united front in the interest of protecting the community’s young people. Funeral Director The school and funeral home are complementary sources of information for the community. Schools are often in an excellent position to: • • Give the funeral director a heads-up about what to expect at the funeral in terms of the number and types of students likely to attend and the possible need to have additional staff and/or security present • • Provide information about local counseling and other resources to the funeral directors, with the request that the information be made available to attendees at the funeral Schools can also ask the funeral director to: • • Provide (or recommend) materials that the school could give to students to help them prepare for the funeral • • Talk to the family about the importance of scheduling the service outside of school hours, encouraging students’ parents to attend, and providing counselors to meet with distraught students after the service (and the need for a quiet area in which to do so) A guide for funeral directors is available here. Faith Community Leaders The school can play an important role by encouraging a dialogue with the family and the faith community leaders (or whoever will be officiating at the service) to help them all understand the risk of suicide contagion. For example, the school could explain the importance of not inadvertently romanticizing either the student or the death in the eulogy, and emphasize the connection between suicide and underlying mental health issues. It may be helpful to refer faith community leaders to the publication After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services and Other Public Memorial Observances. If the school has a religious affiliation, it is important to include clergy who are on staff in any communications and outreach efforts to support the student body and encourage them to be familiar with their faith’s current understanding of the relationship between mental illness and suicide.