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Schools, Colleges, & universities

After a suicide in a school, college, or university community, complex questions often arise: 


  • What’s the best way to talk to young people about this frightening subject?  

  • Is suicide contagion real?  

  • Is it potentially risky to have a memorial on campus? 

  • What should we do with their desk, locker, or dorm room?

  • How should we handle graduation and the yearbook? 

  • Are antidepressants dangerous?  

  • Does bullying cause suicide?  


As the co-author of the original After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools, the free online resource used by hundreds of school  communities facing real-time crises, I offer evidence-informed guidance, concrete action steps, and reassurance.


I’ve worked with public, private, and parochial educational institutions throughout the United States, from suburban high schools and rural middle schools to elite prep schools and boarding schools to large public universities, to help them address the questions, emotions, concerns, and fears that inevitably arise around suicide. I’ve also been a featured presenter on suicide postvention in schools and colleges at the American Association of Suicidology, the California Suicide Prevention Network, the New York State School Boards Association, the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, and the Wyoming Department of Health.


A complete list of speaking engagements and consultations, including educational institutions, can be found here.


I work with schools, colleges, and universities after a suicide loss in their community through:

  • consultation with senior administration 

  • training for faculty, administration, guidance departments, and other school personnel

  • educational discussion forums for parents and community members


I can help.  Contact me, and we'll take it from there.

“Your session was simply packed with invaluable information.”


“Thank you so much for your informative presentation this evening. I am a teacher in the district who is also a parent. We have lost far too many to suicide in our community. The information you shared is so valuable and important for all of us to have. I am grateful that you took the time to speak with us. We all left with important tools and insights.”


“Your presentation, insights, and advice were phenomenal! Thank you for the info, handouts, and extra time you put into the evening. Much appreciated.”


“As the district superintendent, I have heard Ms. Harpel present a consistent, compassionate, and meaningful message to different audiences. These presentations are grounded in research and a depth of experience. Further, she is always mindful of the sensitive and confusing nature of the topic - coping with suicide loss. Ms. Harpel is someone who should be sought by communities who are trying to make sense of a human tragedy that often defies understanding. “


“Thank you, Joanne, for answering our concerns and for all of the information you have given us to employ to help our children and their friends through the grieving process.”


“Thanks for everything! The parent and faculty feedback has been very positive. Thanks again for all of your help and guidance!”

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