New Kognito Simulation Helps K-12 Schools Respond to Community Deaths

The simulation, “Resilient Together: Coping with Loss at School,” equips teachers and administrators to implement an effective crisis response plan, understand the unique circumstances surrounding a death by suicide, and effectively communicate with students and colleagues who are exhibiting signs of distress.
A survey by the American Federation of Teachers found that seven in 10 classroom teachers have a student who has lost someone close to them in the past year, yet fewer than half have access to a school protocol for assisting impacted students. Resilient Together uses conversations with virtual students and staff to help close that gap. The 40-minute online simulation is designed to foster healing and build resilience among students and staff in the aftermath of a tragedy.

Resilient Together: Coping with Loss at School features scenarios tailored to different roles within the school community. By selecting their role (teacher or administrator) and grade level (elementary or secondary school), the participant receives the experience most relevant to their needs. In addition to crisis response planning and protocols, users learn how to support students and colleagues who have been impacted by a death by spotting signs of distress, affirming and normalizing their emotions, and advocating for their self-care and support.

The simulation was developed in collaboration with school psychology experts Richard Lieberman and Scott Poland, both of whom have extensive experience in areas ranging from youth suicide to school crisis prevention and intervention. The two are particularly known for their work in “postvention,” which refers to the period after a death by suicide. Postvention best practices have been demonstrated to curb the possibility of suicide “contagion” or “clusters” – as adolescents have been shown to be particularly susceptible to copying suicidal behaviors.

“A sudden death can be devastating for a school community, and school and district leaders frequently lack both the knowledge and the step-by-step roadmap to respond effectively,” said Lieberman, a Los Angeles-based school psychologist who has co-authored numerous book chapters on school suicide intervention and contributed to the SAMHSA “Preventing Suicide” and SPRC/AFSP “After a Suicide” school toolkits. “Kognito’s simulation provides an efficient and effective way for school personnel to learn best practices for communicating with students and colleagues dealing with loss, as well as the components required for a successful crisis response plan,” he said.

“When death impacts a school, having the processes in place to support the community can make a substantial difference in how well people adjust mentally and emotionally,” said Poland, who co-directs the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University. Poland has authored and co-authored five books on school crisis including “Coping with Crisis.” “This new professional development program from Kognito is a valuable and easy-to-access tool for school communities in preparing for or responding to a tragedy,” Poland added.

Kognito simulations have historically dealt with difficult subject matter, including helping doctors talk with patients about opioid use or supporting patients who receive a cancer diagnosis. “Resilient Together is an important extension of Kognito’s work in mental health and the K-12 sector,” said Ron Goldman, Kognito’s co-founder and CEO. “This first-of-its-kind online professional development program addresses coping with loss directly, both for teachers in the classroom and administrators who are responsible for establishing policies and procedures. Our vision is that school districts and state agencies will use it to promote effective planning and as a just-in-time resource to promote best practices and reduce the risk of suicide contagion.”

More information about Resilient Together: Coping with Loss at School is available here.

About Kognito

Kognito is a health simulation company whose evidence-based simulations harness the power of role-play conversations with virtual humans to improve social, emotional, and physical health. Learn more at

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