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Should I explain suicide to my 8 year old daughter? Recently I lost a very close friend to suicide and dealing with this death is different, she has asked me how they died?

My 8 year old daughter has always been able to express compassion very well, she realizes that there always some reason behind a feeling. This is something she's been able to do since 5 years old. When I heard of the news my high school sweetheart of 4 years had taken his life, it really upset me for numerous reasons, 1 being that he was a Father of 2 young kids. So besides from sadness, one can feel anger at the same time. We hadn't been close for a couple of years but always knew where the other was. I am hestitating of an explanation because I don't know if she can grasp this subject, mainly to process it is where I think my flag goes up. Any advice would be appreciative.

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Asked by Adjustingspace at 1:20 PM on Jun. 13, 2011 in General Parenting

Level 5 (70 Credits)
Answers (7)
  • I discuss & explain a whole lot of things to my oldest son..who is now 11. I honestly don't think I would have explained what suicide is to him when he was 8. There is nothing to be gained from them knowing that at such a young age..espcially when it wasn't an immediate family member. Just explaining&understanding death in itself is hard enough at that age. I'd wait till she was older.Good Luck

    Answer by kimberlyinberea at 1:25 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • I would just say he was suffereing from an illness and leave it at that. I would be concerned baout opening up the "option" of suicide at a young age since most people dont consider that taking their own life is an option unless they know someone who does it. She isnt directly related to the situation so I think you are safe to give her a general reason. He probably was suffering from emotional "illness" anyway even if it was just extreme stress.

    Answer by ria7 at 1:25 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • I wouldn't. I would say he was in a horrible accident and leave it at that.

    Answer by mompam at 1:30 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • More often than not a child will not ask a question if they are not able to handle the answer. I would answer her questions as honestly as you feel comfortable answering, but save her the gory details. Depending on HOW he committed suicide, I'd just leave it at, he took his own life because he was so sad about blah blah blah.

    Kids know when they're being lied to. If you're really not comfortable answering her right then, tell her that too. "I'm not comfortable answering that question right now, let me think on it and I will answer it later" then make sure you DO. I've had to do that with my 4 and 7 year olds. They'll ask me something out of the blue that I'll need to think about the best answer for them.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 1:36 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • I believe in being honest in an age appropriate way. a few months ago, DS (9 in two weeks) asked what suicide was. I don't remember what brought it up but I knew he needed an honest answer. I said that sometimes people get so depressed they can't see that life isn't quite as bad as it looks like to them. I described it like trying to watch a 3-D movie without the glasses. Then I explained that sometimes when some people are that sick they start to think the only way to make it better is to simply not be alive any more and sometimes they believe that enough to kill themselves. I added emphatically that nothing is EVER bad enough to take your life & doing so was the most selfish thing to do because it made a lot of other people very sad. I told him that people who did that were sick and needed medical help to get better before it got that far and that no matter what you faced, death wasn't the way out of it.

    Answer by ldmrmom at 1:58 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • (cont) in your shoes I would tell my child that my friend was very ill - not the sort of ill that she was when she had the flu or an ear infection, but a kind of ill that him sadder than any sad DD had ever experienced. He was so depressed that he thought the only way to feel better was to not be alive anymore and sadly, he acted on that before anyone was able to help him. That he committed suicide, which means to cause his own death. I would add that I felt sad he felt so lost and alone and that he didn't' realize he had better options other than death. I would also add, as I said, that the path he took caused a lot of other people a lot of pain and sadness - how his family and friends miss him greatly and that nothing he could have been going through was bad enough to do what he did. I wouldn't give details of how he killed himself - just that he did.

    Keep the answer at a level you know she can comprehend but be honest.

    Answer by ldmrmom at 2:02 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • i agree with idmrmom. i'd probably add something like "if you ever feel sad (or any emotion for that matter) you can come and talk to me about it. there is nothing that you could say to me that would make me feel uncomfortable. a lot of the time people feel like they have no one to talk to or that they have no one that cares enough. they just want the hurt to stop so badly that they feel that death is the only way to do that. they feel hopeless and alone. you need to know i will always be here to listen and i will always love you. there isnt anything you cant talk to me about." i am so sorry for your loss. its never easy losing someone you care about. i hope that now he can find the peace that he so desperately wanted. take care...

    Answer by happymom8262 at 4:01 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

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