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After the Death Notification: Ten Guidelines for Assisting Victims & Survivors of Mass Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2018
4 pages
These guidelines from the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center outline services victim assistance professionals (VAPs) can provide after the initial death notification to family members of deceased victims of a mass violence incident (MVI).
The first principle mentioned is not to tell survivors what to do in response to their victimization. They should be informed of options, with a follow-up days or weeks after the death notification. The options provided may include assistance in identifying the decedent, services and support specific to MVIs, funeral and burial arrangements, counseling and mental or behavioral health support, family and social support, and the crime victim compensation process. A few days after the death notification and the provision of service options for family members to consider, contact should be made to focus on any needs for assistance expressed by family members. An appointment should be made to help the survivors complete their application for compensation and facilitate its delivery to the state compensation agency. Monitor and ensure that the application has been received and provide survivors with contact information for the compensation agency. Other guidance for VAPs after the death notification relate to 1) a discussion with survivors about the news media's interest in mass violence crimes and what that may involve; 2) a discussion with survivors about how they want the victim to be portrayed; 3) assistance with funeral arrangements; 4) a discussion with survivors about personal memorial/tribute options; 5) helping survivors prepare for a trial associated with the victim's death; and 6) helping survivors consider and prepare for events that may be "trauma cues."