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Foster youth seem especially susceptible to thoughts and actions that are self-harming. Detached from homes of origin, often filled with sadness and despair, some of these youth will attempt suicide. And some will be successful in those attempts.

While many educational systems, including high schools and colleges, now have clear “aftermath protocols” that guide administrators and staff through the process of moving through the tragic loss of a student, many child welfare systems do not have such protocols in place.

We considered creating an in-depth protocol for child welfare administrators but thought better of it after researching the excellent resources that are already available from the education sector.

We’ve provided a list of some of the very best Suicide Aftermath protocols below. We urge child welfare systems that do not already have such protocols in place to consider adapting one or more of the following for their own local needs.

Suicide aftermath resources:


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Dr. Chris Downs has devoted much of his professional career to improving services and outcomes for older, at-risk youth. Chris is President of The Downs Group LLC, based in Seattle and has the pleasure of working with many talented professionals in child welfare and allied areas including his company Associates.