2.5 Protective [Safe] Messaging


The fifth P stands for Protective Messaging. Protective messaging is most commonly known as safe messaging. Protective messaging refers to safe communications within the school’s community, as well as communications with outside community members. Messages conveyed around suicide can either harm or help your efforts. It is important to make sure that the information being conveyed is extending suicide prevention efforts and not preparing for further suicidal crises. Correct terminology should be used when discussing suicide, such as saying died by suicide, instead of committed, completed, or successful suicide. It is important to collaborate with media to create a strategy for releasing sensitive information around a suicidal crisis. Having policies in place to control what school members and media should and should not report will help to protect suicide prevention efforts and the well-being of the school community. Messaging should focus on prevention, hope, and resilience of the school community.

    Facilitated Discussion Instructions
  1. Review and access the recommended and additional resources for this section (listed below).
  2. Complete the section Worksheet:

Worksheet 5: Protective [Safe] Messaging

Recommended Resources for Discussing ‘Protective [Safe] Messaging’

Page 9 from the “Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention” covers messaging, suicide contagion, and external communications.
Model School District Policy

“Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide” is a handout that provides what isn’t safe with alternatives for safe reporting.
Reporting on Suicide

“Safe Messaging for Suicide Prevention” provides a short list of do’s and don’t’s as to what you should and shouldn’t emphasize in communication to make messages safer.
Safe Messaging

“National Action Alliance Framework for Successful Messaging” assists in developing messages for suicide that are safe.
National Action Alliance Framework

    Additional Resources to Help with ‘Prevention’

  • “After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools” provides information on safe media coverage and social media.
    A Toolkit for Schools
  • This section of “Texas Suicide Safer Schools Implementation Guide and Tools” provides guidelines for postvention and social media communications.
    TxSSS Implementation Guide - Pt. 4
  • Appendix I, Tools 23 & 24 in the “Texas Suicide Safer Schools Implementation Guide and Tools” provide samples of safe media statements and messaging for media spokespersons.
    TxSSS Implementation Guide (Appendices)
  • The following link to the “Youth Suicide Prevention School-Based Guide” refers to Issue Briefs 7a & 7b, which provide templates on notifying school members and parents after a suicide.
    Youth School-Based Guide