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How to talk about suicide

Posted by on Jul. 9, 2012 at 1:50 PM
  • 14 Replies

 Afriend of the family recently committed suicide. It was a shock to everyone, especially his wife and 17 year old son-who is very angry. Our 12 year old knew him as a very nice man, and looked up to him and really likes his wife-who has been a good role model for her. We've discussed it briefly, but I'm at a loss right now. Anyone have any suggestions?

by on Jul. 9, 2012 at 1:50 PM
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Replies (1-10):
amy7243
by Member on Jul. 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM

 This is such a hard topic. Good luck and I am sorry for your familys loss.

copperswifey
by Bronze Member on Jul. 9, 2012 at 5:34 PM

I am so sorry for your loss. That is so sad that someone feels it is that bad that there is nothing else they can do but end their own life. You wish they would have just reached out and talked to someone. Here is something I found online. I hope it helps you a little. :)

 

What to Tell Children

What children might feel after losing someone they love to suicide:

  • Abandoned - that the person who died didn't love them.
  • Feel the death is their fault - if they would have loved the person more or behaved differently.
  • Afraid that they will die too.
  • Worried that someone else they love will die or worry about who will take care of them.
  • Guilt - because they wished or thought of the person's death.
  • Sad.
  • Embarrassed - to see other people or to go back to school.
  • Confused.
  • Angry - with the person who died, at God, at everyone.
  • Lonely.
  • Denial - pretend like nothing happened.
  • Numb - can't feel anything.
  • Wish it would all just go away.

A child or adolescent may have a many mixed feelings or may feel "numb." Whatever they are feeling, remember your role as an adult is to help them and be supportive. Reassure the child whatever feelings they might experience, they have permission to let them out. If they want to keep to themself for a while, let them. Don't tell a child how they should or should not feel. Also, don’t discourage them from expressing negative emotions like anger.

How do we explain suicide to children or young people?

Age is a factor in understanding the type and amount of information to provide. Some children you can talk to about suicide with a 1- or 2-sentence answer; others might have continuous questions which they should be allowed to ask and to have answered. The most important thing to remember is to be honest. Children will always find out about what happened at some point, so be honest.

When a child hears that someone "committed suicide" or died of suicide, one of their first questions might be, "What is suicide?" One way to explain is that people die in different ways - from cancer, heart attacks, car accidents, or old age for example. Suicide simply means that a person caused his or her own death intentionally, it doesn’t have to mean more than that. However, also explaining that the person they loved caused their own death because they had an illness in their brain can also be helpful. If they press for more detail, use your discretion to help the child understand as much as is age appropriate.

Some examples of explaining why suicide happens might be:

  • "He had an illness in his brain (or mind) and he died."
  • "Her brain got very sick and she died."
  • "The brain is an organ of the body just like the heart, liver and kidneys. Sometimes it can get sick, just like other organs."
  • "She had an illness called depression and it caused her to die."

If someone the child knows, or the child herself, is being treated for depression, it's critical to stress that only some people die from depression, not everyone. Remind her there are many options for getting help, like medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

A more detailed explanation might be:

"Our thoughts and feelings come from our brain, and sometimes a person's brain can get very sick - the sickness can cause a person to feel very badly inside. It also makes a person's thoughts get all jumbled and mixed up, so sometimes they can't think clearly. Some people can't think of any other way of stopping the hurt they feel inside. They don't understand that they don't have to feel that way, that they can get help."

It's important to note that there are people who were getting help for their depression and died anyway. Just as in other illnesses, a person can receive the best medical treatment available and still not survive. This can also be the case with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

A child needs to understand that the person who died loved them, but that because of the illness he or she may have been unable to convey that or to think about how the child would feel after the death. The child needs to know that the suicide was not their fault, and that nothing they said or did, or didn't say or do, caused the death.

Some children might ask questions related to the morals of suicide - good/bad, right/wrong. It is best to steer clear of this, if possible. Suicide is none of these - it is something that happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with that pain.

Whatever approach is taken when explaining suicide to children, they need to know they can talk about it and ask questions whenever they feel the need. They need to understand they won't always feel the way they do now, that things will get better, and that they'll be loved and taken care of no matter what.

TurboMom81
by on Jul. 9, 2012 at 5:50 PM

My second cousin commited suicide when I was in fourth grade.  My Mom just told me that Jonathan was very sad and took his own life by shooting himself.  

Later I learned to rest of the gory details.  Unfortunately this was just the first of a long line of suicides in my family.


wedding ticker


Mrs.Andrews
by on Jul. 9, 2012 at 6:01 PM

I don't think anyone ever really understands it when someone kills himself. My Dad tried when I was 15 and even though I have talked to him a little bit about it since then, I still don't understand it. Tell your daughter it is really sad. And that you don't understand it either. It's ok to be angry, suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do to their family. Some things in life are just too hard to understand and it's ok to feel confused.

SweetLuci
by Bronze Member on Jul. 9, 2012 at 7:27 PM

 Thank you. This is very helpful. I didn't think of looking online, and I always search for everything. Thank you again.

Quoting copperswifey:

I am so sorry for your loss. That is so sad that someone feels it is that bad that there is nothing else they can do but end their own life. You wish they would have just reached out and talked to someone. Here is something I found online. I hope it helps you a little. :)

 

What to Tell Children

What children might feel after losing someone they love to suicide:

  • Abandoned - that the person who died didn't love them.
  • Feel the death is their fault - if they would have loved the person more or behaved differently.
  • Afraid that they will die too.
  • Worried that someone else they love will die or worry about who will take care of them.
  • Guilt - because they wished or thought of the person's death.
  • Sad.
  • Embarrassed - to see other people or to go back to school.
  • Confused.
  • Angry - with the person who died, at God, at everyone.
  • Lonely.
  • Denial - pretend like nothing happened.
  • Numb - can't feel anything.
  • Wish it would all just go away.

A child or adolescent may have a many mixed feelings or may feel "numb." Whatever they are feeling, remember your role as an adult is to help them and be supportive. Reassure the child whatever feelings they might experience, they have permission to let them out. If they want to keep to themself for a while, let them. Don't tell a child how they should or should not feel. Also, don’t discourage them from expressing negative emotions like anger.

How do we explain suicide to children or young people?

Age is a factor in understanding the type and amount of information to provide. Some children you can talk to about suicide with a 1- or 2-sentence answer; others might have continuous questions which they should be allowed to ask and to have answered. The most important thing to remember is to be honest. Children will always find out about what happened at some point, so be honest.

When a child hears that someone "committed suicide" or died of suicide, one of their first questions might be, "What is suicide?" One way to explain is that people die in different ways - from cancer, heart attacks, car accidents, or old age for example. Suicide simply means that a person caused his or her own death intentionally, it doesn’t have to mean more than that. However, also explaining that the person they loved caused their own death because they had an illness in their brain can also be helpful. If they press for more detail, use your discretion to help the child understand as much as is age appropriate.

Some examples of explaining why suicide happens might be:

  • "He had an illness in his brain (or mind) and he died."
  • "Her brain got very sick and she died."
  • "The brain is an organ of the body just like the heart, liver and kidneys. Sometimes it can get sick, just like other organs."
  • "She had an illness called depression and it caused her to die."

If someone the child knows, or the child herself, is being treated for depression, it's critical to stress that only some people die from depression, not everyone. Remind her there are many options for getting help, like medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

A more detailed explanation might be:

"Our thoughts and feelings come from our brain, and sometimes a person's brain can get very sick - the sickness can cause a person to feel very badly inside. It also makes a person's thoughts get all jumbled and mixed up, so sometimes they can't think clearly. Some people can't think of any other way of stopping the hurt they feel inside. They don't understand that they don't have to feel that way, that they can get help."

It's important to note that there are people who were getting help for their depression and died anyway. Just as in other illnesses, a person can receive the best medical treatment available and still not survive. This can also be the case with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

A child needs to understand that the person who died loved them, but that because of the illness he or she may have been unable to convey that or to think about how the child would feel after the death. The child needs to know that the suicide was not their fault, and that nothing they said or did, or didn't say or do, caused the death.

Some children might ask questions related to the morals of suicide - good/bad, right/wrong. It is best to steer clear of this, if possible. Suicide is none of these - it is something that happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with that pain.

Whatever approach is taken when explaining suicide to children, they need to know they can talk about it and ask questions whenever they feel the need. They need to understand they won't always feel the way they do now, that things will get better, and that they'll be loved and taken care of no matter what.

 

SweetLuci
by Bronze Member on Jul. 9, 2012 at 7:31 PM

 Thank you for sharing what happened. I'm sorry your family has had to go throught this multiple times.

Quoting TurboMom81:

My second cousin commited suicide when I was in fourth grade.  My Mom just told me that Jonathan was very sad and took his own life by shooting himself.  

Later I learned to rest of the gory details.  Unfortunately this was just the first of a long line of suicides in my family.

 

SweetLuci
by Bronze Member on Jul. 9, 2012 at 7:32 PM

 Thank you. That makes a lot of sense.

Quoting Mrs.Andrews:

I don't think anyone ever really understands it when someone kills himself. My Dad tried when I was 15 and even though I have talked to him a little bit about it since then, I still don't understand it. Tell your daughter it is really sad. And that you don't understand it either. It's ok to be angry, suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do to their family. Some things in life are just too hard to understand and it's ok to feel confused.

 

copperswifey
by Bronze Member on Jul. 9, 2012 at 7:37 PM

You're welcome and I'm sorry again for your loss. Good luck with your talk. It's hard to see our little ones hurt or suffer.  I'm sure you will handle the whole situation great. :)

Quoting SweetLuci:

 Thank you. This is very helpful. I didn't think of looking online, and I always search for everything. Thank you again.

 

 

TurboMom81
by on Jul. 9, 2012 at 7:38 PM
I have a family History of Mental Illness. It's sad that people fail to recognize it for the disease that it really is.
Quoting SweetLuci:

 Thank you for sharing what happened. I'm sorry your family has had to go throught this multiple times.


Quoting TurboMom81:


My second cousin commited suicide when I was in fourth grade.  My Mom just told me that Jonathan was very sad and took his own life by shooting himself.  


Later I learned to rest of the gory details.  Unfortunately this was just the first of a long line of suicides in my family.


 

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4kidz916
by Bronze Member on Jul. 9, 2012 at 7:57 PM

It's a terrible situation.  My ex-mother in law commited suicide when my daughter was almost three.  As she got older I had to try to explain that her grandmother had done this.  I just tried to make her understand that sometimes people can't handle life anymore.

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