This toolkit outlines critical activities and components of a postvention response.
Be thoughtful about who delivers information and how it is communicated.
When someone dies by suicide, the effect on those touched by it –families, friends, workers – can be immediate and traumatic. Research shows that planning ahead can ease grieving, promote a smoother adjustment, and prevent contagion (Cerel & Campbell, 2008).
There is consensus among practitioners about effective ways to respond to a death by suicide. Drawing on this, and designed for organizations in the public, private and non-profit sectors, Suicide Prevention Ottawa reviews what to do when a child/youth/young adult dies by suicide. The information and videos on this website are meant as a support and complement to existing policies and procedures.
What is contagion?
Research has identified a phenomenon known as suicide ‘contagion’, where a person’s knowledge of -or exposure to- a suicide increases their likelihood of viewing suicide as an option for themselves (Swanson & Colman, 2013). Planning ahead can help to reduce the risk of contagion.
What is a postvention response?
A postvention response aims to restore routine after a suicide. To do this, deliver a combination of the following activities: assist the community to identify needs; build on natural supports and protective factors; provide, or refer to, crisis, psychological or psychosocial supports; and provide other forms of assistance to help people begin to heal.
To prevent contagion, it is important to be intentional at every step in this process. Be thoughtful about who delivers information, and how it is communicated. Ideally, people should have previous experience in leading a postvention response, and strong relationships with those they are supporting. Seek support from a mental health organization in this phase if needed (see Postvention Resources below).
Throughout your postvention response, consider all those who may be affected, what their needs are, and who has the experience, skills and relationships to deliver support. This includes considering who can support the employees in the organization that is coordinating the postvention response.
To view a video about this on our Youtube Channel, click the button below.