Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT and Parent Educator
Talking to your kids about suicide following a community tragedy can be one of the hardest conversations to have as a parent.
As the parent, you need to make it clear to your kids that suicide is never, ever the solution to a problem.
Growing up is never easy. And while things may seem scary, overwhelming, or hopeless in the mind of a child or teenager, you have to reassure them of the following:
You are safe, and we are going to help keep you safe.
Bad things happen to really good people. Something bad happening to you doesn’t mean you are a “bad” individual.
We are here to talk without judgment.
Nothing is more important than your well-being – not grades, not sports, and no, not even your friends.
This too will pass. These emotions, this pain, will not last forever.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
You are surrounded by people who love you and care about you, and we are always available for you to speak to. If you don’t want to talk to us, we can find you a person to speak to.
I am sorry if I have been too busy with my life and work to see you, to hear your pain. I see you now.
There is nothing you could do that would be terrible enough to make suicide a good choice.
We love you unconditionally.
Parents, your child needs to feel reassured that you will take care of their physical and emotional needs. Show them this reassurance through effective communication that is clear and honest.
Remember that children grieve differently from adults. Even if they act like something isn’t a big deal, pay attention– it could take some time for them to process what has happened.
During that time, always check in on your kids. Don’t let them spend hours alone in their room, and be sure to keep an eye on what they are doing on social media and electronic devices. Set limits on how much time they spend using these devices, and use that extra time to plan family activities. Giving your children a solid support system is crucial to helping them get through some of life’s most challenging years.
If you suspect your child is struggling, please do not be afraid to seek help for them today. Remember there is a nationwide epidemic of children suffering from depression, anxiety, and self-harming behavior. On average, there are 121 suicides per day, making it the 10th leading causes of death in the US.
Talk to your kids. Let them know that help is always available. Find a trusted therapist, guidance counselor, clergy member for your child and for your family.
For additional information go to https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/.
No one needs to suffer alone, there is no shame around mental illness!