Suicide response and prevention

Schools play a key role in promoting positive mental health, and for early intervention when students display signs of deteriorating mental health. Teachers and school staff also have a key role to play in responding to attempted suicide or suicide of a student. The resources to assist are outline below.

For accessible versions of the PDFs and word docs on this page, contact your closest regional office​.

Responding to attempted suicide or suicide of a student

The guidelines below are designed to assist school staff in responding to attempted suicide or suicide by a student. They provide a checklist of the immediate and longer term steps that should be taken.

The guidelines should be seen as a resource that complements schools' efforts to promote positive mental health, and supports and reflects schools' critical incident management processes. Schools are supported by considerable information and a policy context that provide support structures for vulnerable students.

The document should be read in sequence and school leaders and emergency response teams should re-familiarise themselves with the information in the guidelines as soon as they are aware of a suicide or attempted suicide.

headspace school support program

The Department works in partnership with headspace to provide on the ground support to schools in instances of attempted suicide or suicide.

headspace is Australia's national youth mental health foundation, and its suicide postvention program is an evidence-based world first program which supports Australian secondary schools affected by suicide.

headspace school support:

  • is an initiative funded by the federal government Department of Health and Ageing
  • is committed to working with schools and school systems to reduce the risk of suicide occurring and the consequential impact on families and communities. Suicide postvention is critical, and evidence indicates that schools who have prepared for the event of a suicide can reduce the impact of grief and trauma on the school community, shorten the period of recovery, and reduce the likelihood of further suicides, suicide 'contagion' or clusters of suicides.
  • has the skills and resources to help prepare schools on how best to respond to a suicide of a young person in their school community. This includes being able to provide extensive advice and coordination of necessary services and supports and working directly alongside the Principal and staff to manage the response and recovery phase in the immediate, short, and long term.
  • aims to work closely with education systems, principals, school wellbeing staff, and teachers to appropriately respond to the suicide of a young person.
  • works in collaboration with government departments, youth health agencies and education peak bodies to facilitate and implement a coordinated approach for Australian secondary schools affected by suicide. headspace School Support works alongside existing emergency management protocols to ensure the best possible outcomes for schools.

Contact headspace school support

  • Mobile (Victoria): 0427 518 563 
  • Phone: 1800 688 248 (business hours)
  • Email: schoolsupport@headspace.org.au
  • Website: headspace

Suicide prevention

Suicide prevention in Victoria sits within the framework for Student Support Services. It is based on international and local research that indicates that a population based preventative approach that aims to build resilience in young people, is far more effective than simply focusing on intervention based approaches.

It must be stressed that a whole school approach to building resilience is critical and schools should not employ a narrow approach that focuses only on suicide. See Promoting mental health and wellbeing in your school for assistance with this.

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