EdCan Network News, Well-being

School suicide: What principals should do when students and staff disappear

What does the research says about suicide postvention

A new fact sheet by the national EdCan Network of educators and TeenMentalHealth.org entitled What can school leaders do in the aftermath of student and staff suicide? aims to heighten awareness among K-12 principals and school communities on what they should and should not do following the suicide of a student or staff member.

Authored by Dr. Stan Kutcher, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University and recently-appointed member of the Senate of Canada, this timely resource reveals how some conventional suicide postvention programs can cause more harm than good for the family, friends and classmates of a student or teacher who dies from suicide.

As Dr. Kutcher asserts, things to avoid include memorializing, using phrases such as “committed suicide,” and purchasing suicide prevention programs.

“With recent and recurring reports of youth suicide nationally, globally and in Indigenous communities – especially those in the Arctic North – we’d like to provide concrete support to principals, teachers and parents who are grappling with tragic losses that impact entire school communities,” says Max Cooke, EdCan Network Interim CEO.

In addition to the downloadable copy of the fact sheet, available at www.edcan.ca/suicide-postvention, also included are several practical resources to support school leaders in taking up evidence-based strategies.

This fact sheet was made possible with the generous financial support of the Desjardins Foundation and the Canadian Schools Boards’ Association.


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