When a child’s classmate or friend commits suicide, the shock and sorrow can be overwhelming. For some young people, it can even trigger thoughts about ending their own lives.
If your child talks about committing suicide, take it seriously. Get a professional opinion and seek help from a therapist or counselor immediately.
Even if your child isn’t suicidal, he or she is likely experiencing a range of emotions, from guilt and anger to abandonment and confusion. Parenting your child through this kind of tragedy is never easy, but it’s imperative that you be available, supportive and reassuring.
Whatever your child is feeling is okay. There is no one right way to feel or grieve. The best thing you can do for your child is listen. Depending on your child’s age, he or she may have lots of questions about what suicide means or why someone would do this. Answer your child’s questions honestly in a way that he or she will understand. If your child doesn’t want to talk with you, always leave the door open for a conversation. Most kids will eventually open up.
What more can you do?
Express love and sympathy, and acknowledge your child’s pain and fear.
Continue to monitor your child’s behavior.
Encourage your child to stay connected with others at school and in the community.
Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide. Not talking about it can be far riskier because your child may take that as a sign you don’t care.