First 24 hours

The first 24 hours after a suicide are critical, with the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the postvention plan at the heart of your school’s action.

Many of the actions in the first few days after a suicide are related to putting your response plan in place, and the important task of communicating with the school community about the death.

You might still be completing some of the immediate actions; however, there are additional steps to be taken in the following 24 hours.

  • Convene the Emergency Response Team (ERT).
  • Refer to your postvention plan or department guidelines and modify the plan as required for the circumstances.
  • Identify any ERT staff who are impacted and need to change responsibilities or opt out of managing the response.
  • Contact relevant mental health services for support.
  • Inform staff – in person if possible. Contact staff who aren’t on site. Don’t talk about or describe the method of suicide.
  • Identify and plan support for young people at increased risk of suicide.
  • Identify and support high-risk young people.
  • Set up a support room for young people.
  • Inform students in small groups via a script. Don’t describe the method of suicide. Note any absent students or any students who are very distressed.
  • Inform families. Include information relating to help services. Don’t describe the method of suicide.
  • Inform the wider community as appropriate (for example, other schools or sporting clubs.
  • Nominate a media liaison ERT member. Contact the media liaison adviser in the central office of your relevant education authority. Plan a response to any media enquiries.
  • Plan a response for social media.
  • Ensure staff have support within the school, and access to external professional advice where required.