How To Talk To Your Child About Suicide
Rachael Sharman, 11 Oct 17
       

It’s hard for parents to know whether, or how, they should address suicide with their children. from www.shutterstock.com

Unfortunately many lives are touched by suicide. And while you may want to hide the means of death from your child, this may not be possible, especially in the age of social media. This has provided a modern difficulty for practitioners in the field, and it may be hard for parents to make sure their child is getting the information they need and in a way they can understand and cope with.

The problem of suicide contagion (especially among young people, and those in rural areas) is well documented. That is, once a young person takes their life, this may increase the risk of others in their network doing the same.

How then should you discuss suicide with your child? The first thing to consider is their age.


Read more: What to tell your children about horrific events like Sydney siege


Under ten years

At this age, children legitimately may not understand that death is permanent - “can we ring him in heaven?”, “who’s going to feed Nana after she’s buried?” are typical questions from kids this age. They likely won’t understand the concept of suicide either - and on balance it’s probably not constructive to introduce a topic that may be well above their heads.

However, should someone else tell your child about a suicide, and they seem to somewhat grasp it, you should be prepared to discuss it. A good rule of thumb is, if they’re old enough to ask, they’re old enough to know.

In terms of what to say, the simple truth will suffice.


Mr X was very, very sad and didn’t want to live anymore, but when people get that sad, their brains don’t work properly and they make bad decisions. Mr X’s family will be so sad about this (like we all were when Fido died), so it’s just really horrible for everyone when someone makes a bad decision like that…


There is nothing wrong at this age with pointing out the “badness” or “wrongness” of Mr X’s decision. Children under ten are very black and white in their thinking, so avoid getting into complex arguments about possible shades of grey in these scenarios.


Read more: Adults can help children cope with death by understanding how they process it


Fortunately, suicides in children under ten are extremely rare, so concerns of copycat behaviour are not as pressing.

Adolescents

Some considerations for adolescents are:

1) they tend to catastrophise problems in their life, and have difficulty understanding what is expected of them or what is available to help them

2) they do not have a complex or realistic view of themselves or the world they live in

3) their identity is not fully developed, leading to less self-understanding

4) they legitimately lack the brainpower to foresee long-term consequences of their actions, especially in terms of how they might affect other people. Instead they tend to live in the moment and are egocentric, impulsive and emotional in their decision-making.

Sign in to view full article

       
How To Build a More Organic Internet (And Stand Up to Corporations)
Internet access has become such a necessary tool for participating in society that it has been declared a “human right” ...
Panayotis Antoniadis
Fri, 3 Feb 17
Explainer: How The Brain Changes When We Learn To Read
Right now, you are reading these words without much thought or conscious effort. In lightning-fast bursts, your eyes are darting ...
Nicola Bell
Thu, 18 May 17
The Phone Calls That Helped Expose Organ Harvesting in China
Drhiyuan Wang has spent more than 10 years investigating how other doctors in China have killed massive numbers of people ...
James Burke
Wed, 8 Feb 17
Here’s How We Can Protect Ourselves From The Hidden Algorithms That Influence Our Lives
In political terms, 2016 has been a year of uncertainty. Yet, it has also seen the rising dominance of algorithms, ...
Alan Reid
Sun, 26 Feb 17
Exiled Chinese Billionaire Sheds Light on Regime’s Forced Organ Harvesting
Though associated with communist leaders, Guo Wengui declared his support for persecuted Falun Gong adherents
Leo Timm
Fri, 31 Mar 17
An Epoch Times Survey
Hachi.Tech
AcuSLIM - Acupuncture Weight Loss Programme
Sports Elements
Read about Forced Organ Harvesting
Sports Elements