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Death Notification: The Theory and Practice of Delivering Bad News (From Crisis Intervention in Criminal Justice/Social Service, Fourth Edition, P 341-373, 2006, James E. Hendricks, Bryan D. Byers, eds., -- See NCJ-215593)

NCJ Number
Date Published
33 pages
This chapter provides an overview of crisis intervention and the death notification.
One aspect of crisis intervention that is often overlooked is death notification. The delivery of “death news” is not handled by one particular agency but may be delivered by a myriad of people including police officers, nurses, medical examiners, and various social service personnel. The chapter begins with a theoretical overview of the classical and contemporary crisis intervention literature. The research on death notifications is presented followed by a discussion on how to translate the theory of crisis intervention into the practice of death notification. In this section, the author focuses on death notifications conducted by criminal justice personnel, which typically involve a sudden or unexpected death. The stage and phase models of crisis intervention are reviewed before the author turns his full attention to a discussion of the criminal justice aspects of the death notification task. Criminal justice agencies are advised to designate one person or a team that has been trained in crisis intervention and death notification to the death notification task. The death notification process is reviewed, which includes the steps of information gathering, control/direction, progress assessment, and referral. Crisis assessment is described as an ongoing process that takes place before and during the crisis intervention process rather than occupying a discrete stage in the death notification process. Following a description of each of the four steps in the death notification process, the author underscores the importance of the death notifier as a social support to those who have lost loved ones. No matter what death notification process is followed, death notifiers should attend to the survivor with effective listening and an understanding of how the crisis affects the survivor. The chapter concludes with discussion questions, simulated exercises, guidance for helping the bereaved, and a listing of Internet resources. Appendixes, references


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