After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools | 33 Social Media In the emotionally charged atmosphere that often follows a suicide death, schools may be inclined to try to control or stifle students’ use of social tools such as texting, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat—a task that is virtually impossible. However, by working in partnership with key students to identify and monitor the relevant social networking sites, schools can strategically use social media to disseminate information, share prevention-oriented messaging, offer support to students who may be struggling, and identify and respond to students who could be at risk. Key Considerations Following a suicide death, students may immediately turn to social media for a variety of purposes, including: • • Getting and sharing news about the death (both accurate and rumored) • • Expressing their feelings about what has happened • • Giving and receiving emotional support • • Calling for impromptu gatherings (both safe and unsafe) • • Creating online memorials (both moving and risky) and posting messages (both appropriate and hostile) about the deceased The deceased person’s social media page often becomes a place where friends and family talk about the suicide and the person who died. Social media provides schools with a powerful set of tools to do the following: • • Disseminate important and accurate information to the school community • • Identify students who may be in need of additional support or further intervention • • Share resources for grief support and mental health care • • Promote safe messages that emphasize suicide prevention • • Minimize the risk of suicide contagion that could occur through glorifying suicide or describing details of the means used Schools will be able to use social media most effectively and efficiently if they have set up policies and protocols and developed a presence on social media sites before a crisis takes place. Policies can include guidelines about how social media should be used (e.g., for broadcast, interaction, linkage). Protocols can include platform-specific templates that can be filled in and deployed rapidly in a crisis. Schools should determine which social media tools to use based on the culture and needs of their school community. Schools may also want to have a designated staff person serve as a social media manager to assist the school district’s public information officer.