In a recent post, I explained how families who have lost a member to suicide can deal with the tragedy in a healthy way. It’s vital that the children in a family are given the tools they need to handle the situation in an age-appropriate way.
For each of the age groups, it is necessary to focus on presenting information in a way that they will understand. Depending on the maturity of the individual child, you may find that they respond better to advice from a differing age group. Keep conversation open throughout and bring in a trusted mental health professional to make sure that everyone has a safe outlet to share their complex emotions.
It can seem scary for guardians of adolescents to consider that children as young as 10 may be impacted directly by suicide. Whether through losing a classmate or a family member, young people face many stressors and need guidance on how to process changing emotions. Use these tips to engage pre-teens in suicide prevention:
- Stay available for conversations.
- Encourage them to discuss any worries or questions with you or a trusted adult.
- Explain about the loss of the individual without being too graphic about the methods used.
Middle and high school students may receive educational materials at school about the prevention of suicide. Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training is available through the Florida Department of Education. Parents and guardians still play an important role in the day-to-day wellbeing of teenagers. Use these tips to engage teens in suicide prevention:
- Start an intentional dialogue about the loss of the family member or friend.
- Give them a safe space to share what is going on in their world.
- Answer any questions that arise completely and honestly.
Since COVID, more college students are attending classes virtually. This can create a firmer connection to home if they are studying from home; it can also cause a disconnect between their peers and the traditional in-person college experience. Young adults are faced with more uncertainties now that in years past, especially with regards to future job opportunities and living situations. Use these tips to engage college-aged young people in suicide prevention:
- Provide opportunities to discuss the loss of the loved one.
- Ask for help with returning life to a new normal.
- Share your own struggles and how you overcome them.
Each family is unique in their dynamic, but every family has the ability to emerge stronger. Through facilitating deep discussion and fostering connection, family members can come together to process the tragedy.
If you or your children need guidance on how to navigate this complex situation, please call my office to schedule an appointment. I am available in-person with COVID precautions and virtually for private sessions.