Robert Evans, Ed.D. | www.robevans.org
When a school suffers a suicide or a sudden tragic death, whether of a student, a faculty or staff member, or a parent, people feel shock, disbelief, and immediate concern for students. They want to be helpful but often have trouble understanding how such a thing could happen. They may find themselves reminded of major losses in their own lives. They often worry about saying too much or too little or saying the wrong thing.
Decades of working in schools after suicides, other kinds of deaths (including murders), and major crises such as sexual misconduct cases, have confirmed that the keys to coping, though not easy, are simple. It begins with the truth that what students need after a tragedy is people who know them. If you take care of the faculty, they will take care of the students.
If a tragedy occurs on your campus, Rob is available to consult about your specific situation and tailor a one-pager for distribution to faculty and families about helping students. He also frequently leads separate sessions for faculty and parents at which they can explore questions about talking with students in these situations. He can be reached at www.robevans.org.
Rob Evans is a clinical and organizational psychologist, school consultant, and long-standing partner of SAIS. A former high school and pre-school teacher, and for many years a child and family therapist, he has consulted in more than 1,700 schools.