After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools | 26 Memorialization Students often wish to memorialize a student who has died, reflecting a basic human desire to remember those we have lost. However, it can be challenging for schools to strike a balance between compassionately meeting the needs of grieving students and appropriately memorializing the student who died without risking suicide contagion among other students who may themselves be at risk. Key Considerations It is very important that schools develop a policy on memorialization before a suicide death occurs and ensure that the policy is in the school’s suicide prevention procedures. Schools should strive to treat all deaths in the same way. Having one approach for memorializing a student who died of cancer or in a car accident and a different approach for a student who died by suicide reinforces prejudice associated with suicide and may be deeply painful to the student’s family and friends. Nevertheless, because adolescents are especially vulnerable to the risk of suicide contagion, it is equally important to memorialize the student in a way that does not inadvertently glamorize or romanticize either the student or the death. Focus on how the student lived, rather than how he or she died. If the student had underlying mental health problems, seek opportunities to emphasize the connection between suicide and those problems, such as depression or anxiety, that may not be apparent to others (or that may manifest as behavioral problems or substance abuse). Wherever possible, schools should meet with the student’s friends and coordinate memorialization with the family in the interest of identifying a meaningful, safe approach to acknowledging the loss. Make sure to be sensitive to the cultural needs of the students and the family. This section includes several creative suggestions for memorializing students who have died by suicide and a tool to assist with making decisions about school-related memorials. Funerals and Memorial Services It is strongly advised not to hold funeral and memorial services on school grounds. The school should instead focus on maintaining its regular schedule, structure, and routine. Using a room or an area of the school for a funeral service can inextricably connect that space to the death, making it difficult for students to return there for regular classes or activities. It is also strongly advised that the service be held outside of school hours. If the family does hold the service during school hours, it is recommended that the school remain open and that school buses not be used to transport students to and from the service. Students should be permitted to leave school to attend the service only with appropriate parental permission. Regular school protocols should be followed for dismissing students over the age of majority. If possible, the school should coordinate with the family and funeral director to arrange for mental health professionals to attend the service. In all cases, the principal or another senior administrator should attend the funeral. Schools should strongly encourage parents whose children express an interest in attending the funeral to attend with them. This provides not only emotional support but also an opportunity for parents to monitor their children’s response, to open a discussion with their children, and to remind them that help is available if they or a friend are in need.