7 Tips To Effectively Deal with an In-School Suicide
Imagine for a second you are dealt with an emergency situation in your building, where you have to react immediately to an in-school suicide. What do you do? Do you have measures in place for such an incident? With your emergency response plans, evacuation plans, and school lock down procedures, do you have a suicide action plan in place? Let’s revisit our procedures and know what to do when we are forced to react and don’t have the time to properly respond. I have given you an example of what should be done immediately. Please use this and share with other administrators and school leaders.
This week, I had two phone calls from school communities that each had to deal with an in-school suicide. One was a suicide in the bathroom, and the other was a suicide in the main gym. Could you imagine if this was your school and you were the one that was looked to as the leader? Could you imagine this happening at 7:30 am while you are preparing for another great day with staff and students? What would you do at that very moment? Whether you are a teacher or administrator, what are you going to do . . . Right Now!
Before writing this blog, I called some of my trusted friends in education, mental health, and law enforcement. I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing by getting their feedback and support before I would put this out publicly. The response from each one was met with a pause and a quick jolt of reality as we’re not expecting to have to deal with this. My friends, this is reality and we have to deal with the possibilities. I hope my words and video can serve you in your leadership and gain the trust of your families and school community. Never were you given a certificate in your administrative training where you were taught how to deal with this type of crisis. It’s real life and as leaders we have to be prepared for real life.
I have outlined my 7 Tips to Effectively Deal with an In-School Suicide here:
The First Step –BREATHE (You are the leader and your students and staff members are looking to you for guidance, support, and leadership)
- Clear the area immediately – This is now a Crime Scene
The Second Step – Go To School Lock Down Procedures immediately
- Make the Phone Calls –
- Call 911
- Call Superintendent
- Call School Support Services
- Call Community Mental Health
- Call Grief Counselors
- Nobody talks or alerts the media
- Nobody puts anything out on social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- The situation needs to be given its respect and the parents/family needs to be notified
- Alert System – Phase 1
- The school should be proactive and use their school-wide community communication and let people know there is a situation at the school
- Advise the parents that they can pick up their kids at a designated place and time
The Third Step – Evacuation Plan (This depends on where this may have taken place and what size school you are)
- Clear the building of all teachers, staff members, and students
- Clear the general area and keep the kids in classrooms
The Fourth Step – Grief Counselors for Staff and Students on hand
The Fifth Step – Staff Meeting as soon as possible
The Sixth Step – School Closed
- This depends on the size of the school and the day of the week when we open school back up
- This also depends (unfortunately . . . but it does) on the type or the popularity of the student
The Seventh Step – Alert System – Phase 2
- Communication to the parents and the community
- Let them know about the Grief Counselors and that they are available
- Answer the general questions with respect to the family
- Make yourself available
* Jeff Yalden is a suicide prevention specialist and youth motivational speaker. Jeff specializes in teen inspiration and embracing parents. For 23 years, Jeff Yalden has addressed high school and middle school audiences all over the world. His presentations are fun, interactive, and memorable. When asked to bring a student body back from a suicide, Jeff is the man. He cares and comes in and makes himself available answering the questions that may never be answered, ultimately giving teens, staff, and parents an understanding of today’s teens. Jeff brings the kids to understand that life is hard, but we must move on. Visit Jeff’s website www.JeffYalden.com and contact Jeff for your next high school assembly. You’ll be glad you did.