Guide for Responses to Suicide on College Campuses

November 19, 2014

The Higher Education Mental Health Alliance released a guide Tuesday to assist colleges with their responses to campus suicides. Called "Postvention: A Guide for Responses to Suicide on College Campuses," the 26-page booklet offers suggestions as to how colleges can best facilitate the grieving and adjustment process, stabilize the campus environment, reduce the risk of negative behaviors, and limit the risk of further suicides. "Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students," the alliance said in a statement. "Tragically, after hearing about a suicide death, those who are already at risk for suicidal behavior may be at increased risk for self-harm. There are multiple factors which might increase or help to reduce risk, making a school's reaction vitally important."

The detailed guide includes suggestions such as forming a "postvention" committee that includes staff from campus behavioral intervention teams, the communications department, the legal department, the campus chaplaincy, and student affairs leadership; implementing postvention plans after an alcohol or drug-related death as it may be unknown whether the death was intentional or accidental; and having the university public relations office work with counseling leadership when reporting a campus suicide.

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