suicide prevention in western ny
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Mental Health Programs > Allies 4 Life > Crisis Response

Establishing a Crisis Response Team
It is critical that every school respond to a suicide crisis situation carefully and thoughtfully, in order to diminish the threat of the immediate situation, speed recovery and bring about a return to normalcy for the school and community. Every school and youth-based organization should have a Crisis Response Team and a plan that details the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team.

The Crisis Response Team should consist of 5 to 10 participants. One person should be designated as Team Leader and another should hold the position of Backup for that position. The Team Leader should be responsible for setting up meetings that ideally occur every few months.

Other duties for team-members include: calling out the team when needed, controlling rumors, responding to the media, contacting community links, providing first aid if necessary, contacting parents of students experiencing a suicidal crisis, scheduling response team meetings and providing training to school staff and faculty.

A Crisis Management Guideline Book should be written and given to each participant for reference. The book would describe the roles and responsibilities and would become a tool during a crisis. Training is needed to make sure that each participant is aware of his or her role and what is expected. Role playing should be a part of the training in order to get participants used to their roles and responsibilities BEFORE a tragedy occurs.

As a team, roles will need to be developed and agreed upon before a Guidebook can be written. A job description should also be written for each team player. This guidebook will need to be updated as things change. The guidebook should have all team members contact information, what their roles are, and everyone should know where to send individuals when displaying signs of depression and or suicidal thoughts .

Responding to a death by suicide

  • The school principal should contact the police or medical examiner in order to verify the death and get facts surrounding the death

  • The superintendent of the school district needs to be informed of the death

  • Prepare and activate procedures for responding to the media

  • Notify and activate the school's crisis response team

  • Contact the family of the deceased

  • Schedule a time and place to notify faculty members and all other school staff

  • Contact community support services

  • Arrange a meeting for parents/caregivers

  • Meet with all students in small groups

  • Provide additional survivor support services to all students identified as at-risk

  • Members of the school's crisis team should follow the victim's classes

  • Establish support stations or counseling rooms

  • De-brief staff at the end of the day for approximately 5 days

  • Reschedule any immediate stressful academic exercises, though avoid changing the school day regular schedule

  • Avoid flying the school's flag at half-mast in order to avoid glamorizing the death

  • Memorialization should focus on prevention, education, and living

  • Collaborate with students to utilize social media effectively to disseminate information and promote suicide prevention effort

  • Inform local crisis telephone lines and local mental health agencies about the death

  • Provide info about visiting hours and funeral arrangements to staff, students, parents, and community members

  • The family of the deceased should be encouraged to schedule the funeral after school hours

  • Follow up with students that are identified as at-risk

The Mental Health Association in Niagara County, Inc., is available to assist you with anything you might need to help establish your crisis team. We will be more than happy to go over signs and symptoms of depression with you and provide any tools we may have that will help you through this process. Together, we can stop these unnecessary tragedies.


Allies 4 Life is an alliance of knowledgeable, caring adults who are  willing to do what it takes to recognize depression and prevent suicide.
Mental Health Association of Niagara County
36 Pine Street
Lockport, New York 14094
Phone: 716-433-3780
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