Helping After Student Suicide

When talking to someone after suicide we ask ourselves “What do I say? Will I make it worse?” Say what you feel, talking about what has happened will only help the healing process…



When we find ourselves talking to an individual or even a group students who have just lost peer to suicide, our instinct may be to panic. We ask ourselves “What do I say? Will I make it worse?” Say what you feel, talking about what has happened will only help the healing process.

key points to make after a suicide:

  1. Acknowledge the death. The suicide is an elephant sitting in the room; you will not get anywhere until you acknowledge that someone has died.
  2. Remove the blame. Remember that 90% of all suicides are caused by untreated depression; this is what caused the suicide. We do not blame people for dying of cancer, and we should not blame someone for dying from untreated depression.
  3. Give people permission to grieve.  Giving Survivors permission to be where they are emotionally can help heal and allow them to return to a new normal.

Discussion Strategies

Here are some strategies and talking points for communicating points one, two and three:

  • No one is to blame the deceased. No one is to blame themselves. You are not there to shame the dead, but rather comfort the living. This (young) person will be missed.
  • Grief from suicide death is more complicated. Allow people to find their own unique way to grieve. There is no time limit to grief.
  • It is ok to talk about suicide to find some understanding.
  • If someone asks a question you don’t have the answer for, say, “I don’t know. There are people who are experienced in the mental health field that may have answers to your question.”
  • Memorials might be within or without the school. There are many ways to honor your friend.
  • Understanding suicide is difficult and complex.
  • It would be good to have a school sponsored information presentation by an experienced organization on suicide prevention and mental health.
  • Teachers, parents, and students can all come to a new level of understanding of suicide when you have good information presented to you.

Talking about suicide shortly after someone has died is tough to do and tough to hear. Remember it is necessary to aide healing and to prevent this from happening again. For further information about suicide, grief and recovery contact Common Ground.