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What do I tell my son about suicide?

Posted by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 12:16 AM
  • 33 Replies

March of 2012, my son's father committed suicide. Now, his mother (the grandmother) committed suicide. I have not told him yet, as I don't know what to say. When his father died, I was advised, by a child counselor, to tell my son that his father was sick and his heart stopped working. My son is eight by the way. The problem is that I don't want to tell him that again, and have my son think that every time he or anyone gets sick that he might die.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 12:16 AM
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Replies (1-10):
MixedCooke
by Platinum Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 2:48 AM

tell him she got into a car accident.  I think eight is too young to fully go into explaining why someone chooses to end their own life.

Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 on Feb. 1, 2013 at 3:53 AM

i dont think a car accident is the way to go. i mean, eventually he's gonna learn that you lied to him- about his grandmother's death!

i might say that she was sick too, but they arent sure WHY she died as of now. In a way, depression/suicidal is an illness-- and that can be explained later on, when he's older.... if he gets scared that he or someone may die when they get sick, just remind him thats why its important to be healthy, eat healthy, talk to people, go to the doctors, etc.

horseap
by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 3:58 AM

 Something that helps my kids was a book called Our Tree Named Steve... It helped them put things into place that even though someone is gone you still have them with you always... just in a different way.  Im sorry for you loss and the terrible weight of explaining this to your child.

 

Review: Our Tree Named Steve

Editorial Review - Kirkus Reviews

In a letter to his three children who are visiting their grandparents, a father recalls all the wonderful things Steve the tree has been to their family. When they visited the empty lot where they would build their house, Sari, the youngest, couldn't say tree, so she said "Steve." Thus, a family friend was dubbed. He was perfect for shade and hanging laundry when the dryer broke. He even held a hammock for fat Uncle Chester and drank all the sewer water when the sump backed up. Being a tree has its dangers, and a storm knocked Steve down. Friend to the last, Steve didn't fall on the house, doghouse, swing set or garden. Dad's writing to warn the kids that Steve won't greet them when they return, but his lumber has made a wonderful new playhouse. Zweibel and Catrow have created a faultless piece of bibliotherapy for children working through loss. Catrow's usual bright, wide-eyed, exuberant watercolors bring individuality and immediacy to Zweibel's simple text. Steve's almost-face shines in each illustration of this sentimental tribute.



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Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on Feb. 1, 2013 at 4:08 AM


This!  OP, I am so sorry for your loss.  That is devastating for you to deal with and try to navigate the best way for your son to deal as well.

I think trying to come up with an accidental death scenario would be extremely difficult and perhaps harmful.  You would be faced with the obvious questions of how did the accident happen, who else was involved, where did it happen, etc.  you would have to continually be on your guard to keep the lie going and hope that no one else let the real reason slip.

Illness as a cause of death is truthful and understandable for an 8 yo.  I know you don't want him being scared but with two close together deaths in the family, he is going to be scared regardless of the cause of death.  If your DH and MIL both died of cancer, it would be the same issue.  Assure him that he is healthy, you are healthy and others close to him are healthy but sometimes people do get sick and die.

Quoting Anonymous:

i dont think a car accident is the way to go. i mean, eventually he's gonna learn that you lied to him- about his grandmother's death!

i might say that she was sick too, but they arent sure WHY she died as of now. In a way, depression/suicidal is an illness-- and that can be explained later on, when he's older.... if he gets scared that he or someone may die when they get sick, just remind him thats why its important to be healthy, eat healthy, talk to people, go to the doctors, etc.



purpleducky
by Ruby Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 7:48 AM
1 mom liked this
Why not tell him the truth?
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Horsey_Mom
by Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Thank you for the advice.

momma-flynn
by Platinum Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 10:58 AM
I don't agree with lying to kids, especially when it's something that they will eventually find out. The death of a loved one is a big deal & your child is old enough to know the truth. You can explain death & suicide on a child's level.
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prieta05
by Gold Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 11:00 AM
I would wait to tell him when his much older to understand and see this Cleary and not get scare all the time.
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Horsey_Mom
by Member on Feb. 3, 2013 at 9:58 AM
We told him that his grandmother passed away. He hasn't asked why or how as of yet. In my gut, I feel he isn't ready to know it is suicide. I won't lie to him, but I think at this point it is too much for an eight year old. I mean it's a lot for me, and I'm 30. Thank you so much for the advice.
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zoegirlsmom
by Platinum Member on Feb. 3, 2013 at 9:59 AM

I think the truth is kindest.

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