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After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools

Introduction

1. Schools should treat all student deaths, be it from cancer or suicide, in the same way.

A. True

B. False


Crisis Response

2. When a school receives the news that one of its students has died by suicide, the first step is to:

A. Confirm the death of the student.

B. Implement a coordinated crisis response.

C. Maintain an environment focused on normal educational activities.

D. Minimize the risk of suicide contagion.


3. Schools should always wait for a final determination of cause of death before they begin communicating with the students.

A. True

B. False


4. Students should be notified of a death in all of the following ways, except for:

A. In small groups

B. In a large assembly

C. In homerooms

D. In a death notification statement


5. Which of the following individuals may be having particular difficulty with a student’s death?

A. Those who had difficulties with the deceased.

B. Those who may have witnessed the death.

C. Students known to have depression or prior suicidality.

D. Those who had difficulty with the deceased, witnessed the death, or are known to have depression or prior suicidality may all have particular difficulty with a student’s death.


Helping Students Cope

6. Although most adolescents have mastered basic skills that allow them to handle strong emotions encountered day-to-day, they may not yet have learned how to recognize complex feelings or physical indicators of distress, such as all of the following, except:

A. Stomach upset

B. Restlessness

C. Hypersomnia

D. Stomach upset, restlessness, and hypersomnia are all physical indicators of distress


7. All students should be provided with the opportunity to go to a small group meeting where they can express their feelings about the death of their classmate and obtain support.

A. True

B. False


8. Group meetings for students should focus on:

A. Helping students identify their feelings.

B. Helping students express their feelings.

C. Practical coping strategies so that students can return their focus to their regular routines and activities.

D. Group meetings for students should focus on helping students identify and express their feelings and also discuss practical coping strategies.


9. Often, youth will express guilt about having fun or thinking about other things, and they may feel that they somehow need permission to engage in activities that will help them feel better and take their mind off the stressful situation.

A. True

B. False


Working with the Community

10. Which of the following is the best starting point for confirming that a death has been declared a suicide?

A. The police

B. The coroner / medical examiner

C. The family

D. Legal counsel


11. Why is close communication with the police important?

A. To determine what can and cannot be said to the school community so as not to interfere with the investigation.

B. To determine whether there are certain students or staff who must be interviewed by the police before the school can debrief or counsel them in any way.

C. Close communication with the police is important to determine what can and cannot be said as well as any students or staff who need to be interviewed.

D. Close communication with the police is not important when working with those grieving from the loss of a student.


12. A community coalition’s initial goal should be:

A. Identify any particular risk factors within the community, such as widespread drug and alcohol use, bullying, or easy access to means of suicide.

B. Educate the community about mental health disorders, substance abuse, and other high-risk behaviors.

C. Decrease negative associations with mental health disorders and help-seeking.

D. Increase help-seeking.


Working with the Media

13. The risk of contagion is related to the _____ of media coverage.

A. Amount

B. Duration

C. Content

D. The risk of contagion is related to the amount, duration, prominence, and content of media coverage


14. All of the following are recommendations for safe media reporting, except for:

A. Do not glamorize or romanticize the victim or the suicide.

B. Use preferred language, such as “died by suicide,” “killed himself or herself,” or “successful suicide.”

C. Do not oversimplify the causes of suicide.

D. Do not describe the details of the method.


Memorialization

15. How should schools play a role in a student’s funeral / memorial service?

A. A funeral or memorial service should be held on school grounds so all students have the opportunity to attend.

B. If a funeral / memorial service is held off school grounds, school buses should be used to transport students to and from the service.

C. The school should focus on maintaining its regular schedule, structure, and routine.

D. Students should be permitted to leave school to attend the service even if they do not have appropriate parental permission.


16. If spontaneous memorials are created on school grounds, they should be monitored for hostile or inflammatory messages or messages that indicate students who may themselves be at risk?

A. True

B. False


17. Memorials may be left in place until after the funeral, or for up to 14 days, after which the tribute objects may be offered to the family.

A. True

B. False


18. Schools should prioritize:

A. Protecting students who might be vulnerable to contagion.

B. Allowing items that may comfort students who want to remember the deceased student.

C. It should be of equal importance to protect students who might be vulnerable to contagion and allow items that may comfort students.

D. Items in remembrance of the deceased should not be allowed on school grounds under any circumstances.


19. Flags should be flown at half-staff on the day of the funeral / memorial service in remembrance of the deceased student.

A. True

B. False


20. It is recommended that online memorial pages remain active only for up to 30 to 60 days after the death of the student.

A. True

B. False


21. If bereaved parents wish to prevent another suicide death, it is advised for them to describe to students the intense pain the suicide death has caused their family and hold assemblies or other large events for students, as it has been proven to be an effective approach to suicide prevention.

A. True

B. False


Social Media

22. In which way are students themselves in the best position to assist in the school’s efforts?

A. They can help identify the particular media favored by the student body.

B. They can engage their peers in honoring their friend’s life appropriately and safely.

C. They can inform school or other trusted adults about online communications that may be worrisome or inappropriate.

D. Students can help identify media favored by the student body, engage their peers, and inform school or other adults about online communications that may be inappropriate.


23. Social media messages that are of the greatest concern are those suggesting hopelessness or referring to plans to join the deceased student.

A. True

B. False


Suicide Contagion

24. Contagion is the process by which one suicide death may contribute to another and is very common, accounting for the majority of youth suicide deaths annually, because they are more susceptible to imitating suicide.

A. True

B. False


Going Forward

25. Some experts suggest waiting several months or a semester after a suicide before providing prevention education to students, teachers, and other school staff.

A. True

B. False


Appendices

26. Staff should be reminded that how they respond to the crisis can have a strong impact on their students and they need to project that they are in control and are concerned about their students’ mental health.

A. True

B. False


27. Leaders in the suicide prevention field agree that all of the following are warning signs indicating a young person may be at risk for suicide, except for:

A. Talking about or making plans for suicide

B. Withdrawal from or change in social connections or situations

C. Expressing hopelessness about the future

D. Displaying severe / overwhelming emotional pain or distress


28. Many people who die by suicide have a mental health condition, the most common of which is:

A. Post-traumatic stress disorder

B. Anxiety

C. Depression

D. Schizophrenia


29. The best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health conditions, including substance abuse problems.

A. True

B. False


30. Although suicide is complicated and involves the interplay of multiple risk factors, it is often simply the result of stress or difficult life circumstances.

A. True

B. False


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