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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

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Death of a Student

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The death of a student is a tragedy that has a significant impact on the Stanford community. The University is committed to responding to these situations with compassion for the student and their family; care for friends, staff, and faculty who may be impacted; and timeliness in managing sensitive logistics and administrative processes during a difficult period.

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Reporting a Death

Any member of the Stanford community or general public who becomes aware of a student death or life-threatening injury should first notify the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (650-723-9633). DPS will coordinate with Santa Clara County Sheriff and Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner (or relevant authorities where the death occurred), as well as with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and the Dean of Students Office.

What Happens Next

The Dean of Students Office coordinates the university’s Student Death Protocol and works closely with many departments and campus contacts to facilitate a centralized and comprehensive process. This process helps by establishing a single university point-of-contact for family members; coordinating support for impacted students, faculty, and staff; protecting the privacy and accuracy of information; and ensuring coordination for other university processes that are involved.

Messaging to the Campus Community Regarding a Student Death

Under most circumstances, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner is responsible for notifying the student’s next of kin. After this takes place, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs may notify all students, faculty and staff. In most cases, we share this information with everyone because those who are impacted live and work throughout the campus community, we want to make counseling and other supportive resources available to everyone, and we want to be honest and clear about what’s happening here. The family’s wishes are paramount in determining if and when the campus community is notified. We also consider safety and the need to protect the integrity of any related on-going investigations.

Campus Scenes, Fall / Autumn. Credit: Andrew Brodhead

Grieving Resources

The difficult days following a death can be filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Spiritual, physical, social, and mental care is essential to our individual and collective well-being. We offer these resources as a starting point. Here may you find support and inspiration, kindle hope, and make connections.

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Mental Health Resources at Stanford

We know that you will experience new and unexpected challenges while on-campus. Here you'll find a wealth of mental health resources. 

Banner image presented in a watercolor style featuring English professor Vaughn Rasberry met admitted students at the Humanities Open House to discuss the humanities at Stanford. Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

Addressing a Student Death With Your Class

Recommendations for instructors and teaching assistants for supporting students through grief and mourning.