After a Suicide Death: Ten Tips for Helping Children & Teens
Suicide Resources from The Dougy Center
1. Tell the truth.
It’s important to be honest with children and teens. They don’t necessarily need to know every single fact about a death, but they do need to hear truthful answers and information. Start with a short explanation of what has happened, and let their questions guide how much detail you provide.
2. Expect and allow for different emotions and feelings.
Feelings and grief reactions are influenced by many factors, including the age, personality and developmental level of the child. You may see a broad spectrum of emotions in children and teens, including anger, frustration, guilt, numbness, shock, sadness, relief, confusion, shame, fear, loneliness and embarrassment.
3. Talk openly about suicide.
Our society continues to stigmatize suicide, as well as the families of those left behind. It is often an uncomfortable and shocking topic that can leave people unsure of what to say. In light of this challenge, it is critical that kids have safe places where they can talk openly about the death without judgement and awkwardness.
4. Hold a memorial service.
No matter how difficult or painful the deceased person’s life or death may have been, grieving children and teens deserve the opportunity to say goodbye and to honor the person’s life.