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Resources for Survivors of Suicide - Memorial Services

In the aftermath of a suicide, one of the most challenging aspects for families, survivors, schools, and communities is planning a memorial service for the deceased. The memorial service can be a highly emotional event that has the potential for either increasing or decreasing the possibility of suicide contagion. Suicide contagion can occur when events (such as memorial services and media coverage) glorify the life or sensationalize the death of the individual. This increases the risk factors for youth who are depressed, troubled, or at increased risk for suicide.

Media reports and memorial services are two of the biggest factors that contribute to suicide contagion. It is a human tendency to overstate the positive qualities of the deceased while at the same time minimizing or even ignoring less positive attributes, particularly their decision to take their own life. Yet this inclination can increase the risk level of suicide for survivors by glorifying the life and death of the deceased. There may be a number of different viewpoints about what type of services or memorial to have. How to respect the wishes of grieving and emotional family, friends, or others while balancing the need to reduce possible contagion can be a very difficult task.

The National Safe Messaging Guidelines provide best practices on how to communicate about suicide safely

For more information on Connect protocols for memorial services, please contact us directly.