Suicide clusters in young people: evidence for the effectiveness of postvention strategies

Crisis. 2012;33(4):208-14. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000144.


Background: Suicide clusters have commonly been documented in adolescents and young people.

Aims: The current review conducts a literature search in order to identify and evaluate postvention strategies that have been employed in response to suicide clusters in young people.

Methods: Online databases, gray literature, and Google were searched for relevant articles relating to postvention interventions following a suicide cluster in young people.

Results: Few studies have formally documented response strategies to a suicide cluster in young people, and at present only one has been longitudinally evaluated. However, a number of strategies show promise, including: developing a community response plan; educational/psychological debriefings; providing both individual and group counseling to affected peers; screening high risk individuals; responsible media reporting of suicide clusters; and promotion of health recovery within the community to prevent further suicides.

Conclusions: There is a gap in formal evidence-based guidelines detailing appropriate postvention response strategies to suicide clusters in young people. The low-frequency nature of suicide clusters means that long-term systematic evaluation of response strategies is problematic. However, some broader suicide prevention strategies could help to inform future suicide cluster postvention responses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control
  • Young Adult