Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
Tips for Early Repsonders
- Compassionately and directly, address whether or not the death was by suicide.
- Respect and accept the families decision about how the death is to be communicated with media, in the obituary, with family members, etc.
- If the services are for a young person you can normally expect a large turnout. Suggest the family consider having support people there for youth to share their feelings with. Often times, parents don’t attend services with their children.
- Provide resources for survivors to access once they are ready.
- Be aware of recommendations for speaking with media about suicide. Also, the condolence page often becomes a place for vulnerable people to ask for help. Ask the family if possible to list crisis line numbers.
- Acknowledge the loss by suicide.
- Ask how the family wishes the death to be talked about in the paper, at the funeral, etc. (i.e., died by suicide, died suddenly, no mention of how the person died).
- Be compassionate and understanding without judgment. Often times, survivors need reassurance that their loved one is in heaven.
- Talk about the life of the person who died, including using their name. Provide hope that there are people who can help them through this tragic loss.
- Provide resources for the survivors to access once they are ready.
- Be aware of recommendations for speaking with media about suicide.
- Be compassionate and express sympathy for their loss.
- In a simple and clear way, explain why you have to treat the death like a crime scene.
- If there is a suicide note or you’ve taken other possessions, explain why they are being taken and when they will be returned, and how.
- Explain the process of removing the body and what the survivors will need to do.
- Leave a resource card that includes cleaning services, support services for loss survivors and crisis help lines.