By managing death issues in a planned purposeful manner, schools can reduce suicide and other harmful behavioral reactions substantially. Helping students to understand death and loss is part of assisting them to become resilient, proactive individuals. Age-appropriate curriculum materials are provided for educating children and teenagers on issues of health, emotional depression, grief, and death. Ways of counseling in schools following the death of a student, teacher, or staff member are explored in detail. Signs of depression and at-risk behavior among teenagers are described as part of a comprehensive approach to prevention, intervention, and postvention concerning death, violence, and self-destructive behavior. The authors share strategies that have proved effective in helping students to focus away from self-destructive, violent single-path solutions to developing positive social skills and alternative plans. Developing a comprehensive school plan in anticipation of a death occurrence and training staff in its implementation greatly reduces emotional stress.
ROBERT L. DEATON is Professor of Social Work at the University of Montana./e He coordinates a Critical Incident Team that responds to fatalities with emergency service staff and frequently assists area schools following a teen suicide. Professor Deaton co-authored a monograph on youth suicide prevention and intervention for the Montana Office of Public Instruction. He also does counseling and staff training in the field. WILLIAM A. BERKAN recently retired as a School Social Work Program Consultant in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction./e He ublished three monographs for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on suicide prevention, child abuse, and neglect.