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Checklist: Responding to a Student Death

Alyssa Keehan, Esq., CPCU, ARM
June 2021

Why Read This

In the unfortunate event of a student death, it is important for campus administrators to strike the right balance of empathy and professionalism in their response. Using this Cool Head, Warm Heart® approach, an institution can promote healing and trust by students, staff, and next of kin. However, failing to respond appropriately to a student’s death can lead to reputational damage, litigation, and campus division.

This checklist — designed to provide campus administrators guidance on how to consistently react with compassion — offers strategies to:

  • Ensure relevant campus departments receive timely information about a student’s death
  • Make sure the deceased’s family is notified and treated with compassion through difficult times
  • Prepare or provide related helpful documents
  • Gather and communicate information about the deceased student
  • Support the campus community by seeking out those on campus who were close to the deceased, such as friends, teammates, siblings, or resident advisors
  • Plan for memorial services

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