Immediate response

When a school faces a tragic incident like a suicide or suicide attempt by a student, it needs to know how to act professionally and sensitively.

When a school is faced with a tragic incident such as a suicide or a suicide attempt by a student, the school team needs to know how to act in a professional and sensitive way.

The list below outlines the key actions that schools can undertake to respond to and recover from a death by suicide immediately after being advised of the death. Many of these tasks will coincide with your critical incident management plans.

  • Contact relevant mental health services for support.
  • If the incident happened at school, ensure the immediate safety of staff and young people (for example, provide first aid and call an ambulance and the police), ensure the scene is secure and any witnesses moved to an area for support.
  • If the incident happened away from school, find out as many of the facts as possible, investigate rumours immediately and confirm facts with the family or police.
  • Ensure those affected – young people, family and staff – aren’t left alone. Contact the families of young people and staff.
  • Inform the relevant representative at your state or territory education department or equivalent body.
  • Contact your Be You Consultant for support and guidance as required.
  • Contact the bereaved family. Ask how to refer to the death when informing the school community. If the family agree, use the term ‘suicide’.