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Notification of a student’s death: how it works

Who notifies you that a student died traumatically can be different depending on how and when it happened.

Sometimes you might hear from the family first, sometimes it will be a formal notification.

Coronial Investigation Section of the SA Police

This Section notifies people when a student, still at school, dies from suspected suicide. They:

  • only contact senior members of a student’s family
  • have one point of contact in the Department for Education.

The department’s Support Services directorate notifies the other education sectors.

Their notification will include students:

  • name
  • age
  • school (if known).

The timing is usually soon after the student’s death.

Each sector must follow their own procedures about how to inform relevant stakeholders.

If you receive information about a student’s death from another source, verify it. Follow the information flow below.

Inform relevant people

Youth suicides can increase the risk of harm to family members and other vulnerable students.

Because of this, schools must be told about:

  • any immediate connections between a deceased student and members of their own school community
  • the possible influence of suicide information being exchanged across their student population.

Think about other schools that are affected. It might be a school in a different sector. Work together to let their families and community know what’s happening.

Schools need as much advance warning as possible. This makes sensitive enquiries between schools easier to do. It means extra monitoring can be set up for identified vulnerable students.

Information flow

1. School informs their sector office:

Department for Education

Education Director (login required)

Catholic Education SA Office

Director or Assistant Director, People Leadership and Culture: 8301 6676

Association of Independent Schools of SA

Chief Executive: 8179 1400

2. School contacts their support services

SWISS 8314 4100 - support for students - Government schools.

Employee Psychological Services 8226 0744 - support for staff - Government schools.

headspace Schools 0448 381 280 - Catholic and Independent schools.

3. Sector offices share information

  • With each other.
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
  • Department for Child Protection.  

The sector where the student was enrolled must inform the other two sectors. Use the contacts above.

4. Sector offices inform other site leaders

Each sector office is responsible for managing how they inform relevant site leaders. Decisions about who to inform will depend on what’s happening at the time.

Aboriginal students

It’s important you contact the department’s Aboriginal Education team. Email them on education.aboriginalservices [at] sa.gov.au - the Department for Education encourages all sectors to do this.  

The traumatic death of an Aboriginal person is complex. It often comes on top of other grief, loss and trauma. It needs a specialist response.

You might want to talk to a community Elder or member for advice about local customs.

Value and respect Aboriginal culture, expertise and practice. Always seek advice from family and community to adopt local practices and approaches to grieving and loss.