After a Suicide a Toolkit for Colleges of Veterinary Medicine

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To help support colleges of veterinary medicine in the aftermath of a student's death by suicide, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) have released a new resource, entitled After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Colleges of Veterinary Medicine.

"The tragedy of suicide echoes throughout an organization," said AAVMC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. "This toolkit provides a best-practices approach to effectively managing the impact of suicide on our academic communities. We're grateful to the experts in the AFSP, AVMA, and other leaders in our profession who have helped create this important toolkit, and we hope that all of our colleges and schools will take full advantage of this excellent resource."

Developed by experts in veterinary medicine and suicide prevention, as well as survivors of suicide loss in the veterinary medical community, this free toolkit includes:

  • best practices for how school administrators and staff should respond in the immediate aftermath of a suicide;
  • guidance on helping students, faculty and staff cope in the short- and long-term;
  • tips on working with the media and community partners such as the coroner's office, local police departments, funeral directors, faith leaders and mental health professionals;
  • tools for deciding how to safely memorialize students;
  • important information on how to identify and support members of the community who may be vulnerable and reduce the risk of suicide contagion.

"This toolkit addresses many of the questions that schools have following a suicide death, while also giving them a framework through which to effectively respond to students' questions and needs," said AVMA President Dr. John Howe. "Collaborating with AFSP provided the expertise and insight necessary in the development of these tools, and AAVMC's reach within the colleges and schools gives us confidence that they will make a significant difference in the future of veterinary medicine."

"Veterinary student mental health is an important component in any school's strategy to support students' health and professional growth," said Dr. Christine Moutier, AFSP chief medical officer. "Because suicide loss survivors can develop elevated risk of suicide if not appropriately supported, postvention is a critical component of suicide prevention.The appropriate handling of the aftermath of a suicide often paves the way for effective prevention strategies to be developed and employed at the next phase after the grief period."

This launch coincides with the AVMA's 6th Annual Veterinary Wellbeing Summit in Chicago, in which AFSP and AAVMC are both taking part.

To view the toolkit:

About the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that's smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

About the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment around the world by advancing academic veterinary medicine. Members include 50 accredited veterinary medical colleges in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, Asia and New Zealand.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.