After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools | 24 Working with the Media A death by suicide of a school-age student can attract a lot of media attention. And when multiple suicide deaths have occurred, media interest can be particularly intense. It is important for a school to develop safe messages in order to avoid contagion. The school should appoint a media spokesperson to ensure that news is released to the media in a deliberate and consistent manner and to disseminate the document Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide to the media. The risk of contagion is related to the amount, duration, prominence, and content of media coverage. Therefore, it is extremely important that schools strongly encourage the media to adhere to the recommendations for safe reporting, which were developed by the nation’s leading suicide prevention organizations. These recommendations include the following: • • Do not glamorize or romanticize the victim or the suicide. • • Do not oversimplify the causes of suicide. • • Do not describe the details of the method. • • Do not include photographs of the death scene or of devastated mourners, which can draw in vulnerable youth who may be desperate for attention and recognition. • • Use preferred language, such as “died by suicide” or “killed himself or herself” rather than a “successful” suicide. • • Include messages of hope and recovery. • • Consult suicide prevention experts. • • Include a list of warning signs, since most (but not all) people who die by suicide show warning signs. • • List the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (800-273-8255) and include information on local mental health resources in each article. • • Include up-to-date local and national resources. Tools for Working with the Media The following tools are in Appendix A: Tools and Templates: • • Sample Media Statement • • Key Messages for Media Spokesperson For more resources on working with the media, see Appendix B: Additional Resources.