Time does not heal you, you heal you.
Self-Ease starts here...
Time does not heal you, you heal you.
Self-Ease starts here...
Suicide is still very much a touchy and taboo subject. It's important to talk about this topic with our children and the youth in our communities, so we convey solidarity and a willingness to be supportive. Here are some tips on how to broach this often difficult subject with the youth in your life.
Five tips for parents or caregivers on how to talk to their child about suicide?
please note: these answers are relevant to providing a child with information for educational purposes only. If your child is at risk, contact a crisis centre immediately.
1) Be open about your level of knowledge. Don't avoid the conversation because you don't feel you have enough information. Actually acknowledge that the subject of Suicide is real and important to you and something you would like to learn more about. It could be something that you learn about together.
2) Ask a child directly if they know what suicide is. Listen to what they say and ask them if they have any thoughts or questions. When they respond, say thank you, and if you're unable to answer them clearly tell them that you will get the answers to their questions.
3) Let them know that sometimes people feel so overwhelmed they don't want to live anymore and find it difficult to admit that or share their feelings. Mention this is the case for both adults and children so the child knows this is a human issue and not age specific.
4) Convey a non-judgmental attitude (which hopefully you have). Never let them feel that suicide is 'wrong' or 'bad' as this may affect how they see you. You want them to feel that you are a trusted source, any hints of judgement and a child may be more inclined to hide things.
5) Ask them if they have ever felt overwhelmed (use age appropriate words) or sad and how they deal with it. This is super important as Mental Health issues are the cause of the majority of suicides period.
6) If they ask why you're asking, say that you saw an article or a report and you were curious. Say that it's an important subject for children and adults and you wanted to know their thoughts. This way it will seem more general so the child doesn't feel you suspect them of thinking about suicide. End with letting them know you're there to talk about anything at all.
-Say the word 'Suicide' or 'People killing themselves'. As hard as it sounds, it's a serious and sad subject and any swaying around with words may suggest that you're uncomfortable with the topic which may be picked up on.
I'm not suggesting being stoic or nonchalant, in fact show emotion and be truthful with how tough or sad the subject is. Lead by example. It is the hope that open communication leads to a reduction in suicide.
-Also, contact your principals and parent/teacher boards and advocate for more suicide awareness to be brought into your child's school, especially at high school level.
My caveat to all of the above is this. If you have limited knowledge, find out as much as you can before leading a conversation. If you suspect a child is at risk, contact your local crisis centre or someone who is ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) certified to speak with the child. There should be at least one person at the school trained to provide this help and contrary to popular belief, it may not always be the school counsellor.
"Talking is a life saving activity."
Why is it important for kids to know about suicide?
Although there have been cases of suicide amongst children 5-9 years of age, Suicide is the highest cause of death amongst teens in high income countries such as Canada, UK and the U.S . Due to the internet and social media children are exposed to more bullying, adult content and suicide ideation more than ever before. Suicide is rarely something that happens quickly and without any signs.
When should kids know about suicide?
This isn't a straightforward answer, but from my experience, this is my take.
Children today are extremely exposed to events and topics of an adult nature from such an early age. The reason something is classified as adult is because it has been deemed that a certain maturity level is required in order to receive 'said' information. Immature, developing minds are not capable of processing the same kind of information a more mature, experienced mind can as adequately. Having experienced incidents relating to suicide in primary school children, I feel its difficult to arrive at a definite cut off age. That being said, it comes down to knowing the emotional maturity level of the child and support available.
However, if this subject is brought to you or an event witnessed by a young child either directly or indirectly, then it is my opinion that the subject is talked about immediately. I would say that every child should be made aware of this topic from age 10 and before if the above is true. If you don't feel comfortable doing it alone, please seek help or contact me for in-person or over the phone help.
Talking is a life saving activity. Being open and unafraid to deal with things that don't feel good is great role modelling. Never forget the influence you may have on a young person who is watching. To hide or ignore serious issues only leads to suffering ultimately.
A 1/2 day workshop called 'safeTALK' is available for groups to learn more about suicide awareness and is for everyone in the community, not just people who work with people at risk. This will provide the basic knowledge on how to approach someone and provide the initial steps of what to do. There are several trainers around the world and im sure that there are other organisations that cover this topic that provide resources. I received my training from https://www.livingworks.net/ . If anyone needs resources for themselves or to give to a client you can use the link or contact me for more information on how to hold a group training session.
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention & World Health Organisation
Counsellor, Facilitator and Writer - My aim here is to provide articles which provoke thought into our inner spaces. Our many 'Selves' should be celebrated, nurtured and most of all understood. Who we are when we are by ourselves and with others is paramount to our very existence and evolution. Connect.Support and Heal with KD Self-Ease.