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How to Talk to Kids About Suicide: What Parents Need To Know

how to talk to kids about suicide
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It’s difficult to know how to talk to kids about suicide. Parents often feel like they are walking on eggshells, not wanting to say the wrong thing and make things worse. But it’s important for parents to be informed about how to talk about suicide with their children, and how to get help for them if they need it. 

This blog post will discuss what parents need to know about talking to children about suicide.

How To Talk to Kids About Suicide As Parents?

open communication

It’s not easy to talk about suicide, but it’s something that we need to do. As parents, it’s important for us to be able to have open and honest conversations with our children about suicide.

It can be difficult for kids to understand what’s happening when someone takes their own life, and it’s our job as parents to provide them with information and resources that will help them cope. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is one of these resources.

Below are some tips on how to talk to kids about suicide:

1. Be Open and Honest With Your Child

A lot of parents often use metaphors when talking to their kids about difficult topics like suicide. While this can be helpful in some cases, it’s important to be open and honest with your child about what suicide is.

Explain that suicide is when someone makes the decision to end their life. It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. And it’s something that should never be taken lightly. Talking about suicide is never easy. However, it must be done.

If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, you can try saying something like, “I need to talk to you about something serious. It’s called suicide, and it’s when someone decides to end their life.” 

Then, ask your child if they have any questions. And be sure to answer them honestly.

2. Let Your Child Know That They Can Come To You if They Have Questions About Suicide

Parents must also let their children know that they can come to them with any questions they have about suicide. It’s important that kids feel like they can talk to their parents about anything, without feeling like they will be judged.

If your child does come to you with questions about suicide, be sure to answer them in a way that is age-appropriate. However, do not avoid the topic or act like it’s not a big deal. This will only make your child feel like they can’t come to you with their questions and concerns.

It’s also important to let your child know that they are not alone. If they are feeling suicidal, tell them that there are other people who feel this way, too. Make sure to assure them that there is help available. Remind them that you are always there for them and that they can come to you with anything.

If your child is reluctant to talk to you about their suicidal thoughts, it’s important to seek professional help. This is something that you should not try to handle on your own.

3. Encourage Them To Ask Questions

You should also encourage your child to ask questions. This will help them to understand what suicide is and how it can be prevented.

Some questions that you can encourage your child to ask include:

  • What are some warning signs that someone is considering suicide?
  • How can we help someone who is feeling suicidal?
  • Why do people feel like they need to end their life?
  • What can we do to prevent suicide?

Answering these questions honestly will help your child to understand more about suicide and how to prevent it. If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, there are many resources available that can help you. The most important thing is to be open and honest with your child.

4. Help Them To Understand That Suicide is Not the Answer

It’s important for kids to understand that suicide is never the answer. No matter how bad things might seem, it’s important to remember that there are always other options.

There are many resources available to help people who are feeling suicidal. These include hotlines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached at 800-273-TALK (8825).

There are also many counseling and therapy options available. If your child is feeling suicidal, make sure to get them the help they need.

5. Check In With Them

Even if your child doesn’t come to you with questions about suicide, it’s important to check in with them from time to time. This will let them know that you are there for them and that you care about their well-being.

You can ask your child how they are doing, how school is going, and if they have any concerns. If you notice any changes in your child’s behavior, make sure to ask them about it.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It’s important for kids to understand that there are other options available to them. With your help, they can get through anything.

How Should Parents Talk to Kids About Death?

crying kid

Death is a difficult topic for anyone, let alone children. As a parent, you may be wondering how to approach the subject with your kids.

Natural deaths are different from suicide since suicide is preventable. Here are some tips on how to talk to kids about suicide:

1. Acknowledge That Death Is a Difficult Topic

One of the first things you can do is to let your kids know that it’s okay to talk about death. Acknowledge that it’s a difficult topic, but one that they can feel comfortable discussing with you.

Let them know that you’re there for them if they have any questions or need to talk about their feelings. If they don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay, too.

2. Explain That Everyone Deals With Death Differently

It’s important to explain that everyone deals with death differently. Some people may cry, while others may not show any emotion. Grieving children might start suicide talking. Younger children might throw tantrums.

Explain that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel after someone dies. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, scared, or confused. Encourage your kids to express their feelings and let them know that it’s normal to feel a range of emotions.

If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, consider talking about a recent death in the news or in a movie. This can be a good way to open up the discussion. 

You can also bring up the topic if someone close to your family passes away. Some kids may not want to talk about death, and that’s okay. If they don’t want to talk, try not to force the issue.

Let them know that you’re there for them if they need to talk and be patient. They may come to you when they’re ready.

If you’re worried about your child’s reaction to a death, it’s vital to seek professional help. A therapist can provide support and guidance on how to deal with the loss.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in teens and young adults, so a trained counselor must be approached, especially if older children exhibit signs of suicide such as depression, mood changes, and expressing thoughts of suicide.

3. Reassure Your Child That It Is Okay To Feel Sad, Scared, or Confused

It’s normal for kids to feel a range of emotions after someone dies. They may feel sad, scared, or confused.

Reassure your young child that it’s okay to feel these things and encourage them to express their feelings. This way, they won’t bottle up their emotions and will be able to cope with them healthily.

4. Offer Support and Encourage Them To Seek Help

Make sure to offer support to your child. Let them know that you are there for them and will help them through this tough time.

Encourage them to speak to a therapist or counselor if they feel like they need professional help. This is a big decision, so let them know that you support them no matter what they decide.

Despite being a difficult topic, kids will reach a point when they will become curious about death and dying. When this time arrives, it’s important for parents to be prepared to have an honest conversation with their children.

By following the tips above, you can ensure that you have a healthy and supportive conversation with your child about suicide. Remember, you are not alone in this; there are many resources and people available to help you through this tough time.

How Do I Tell My Child About the Death of a Loved One?

sad girl hugging stuffed toy

It’s hard enough to explain the concept of death to a child. What’s harder is having to explain how someone died by suicide. You might be wondering how much detail to go into or what language to use.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Use simple and age-appropriate language. For example, you can say that the person “died by suicide” or “killed themselves.” If you are concerned about your child’s reaction, ask your child’s pediatrician or a mental health professional for guidance.
  2. Avoid using euphemisms like “passed away” or “went to sleep.” These can be confusing for children and make it harder for them to understand what happened. It’s also important to remember that every child is different. Some might have a lot of questions, while others might not say anything at all. As a parent, it’s okay not to have all the answers. What’s important is that you provide support and love during this difficult time.
  3. If your child is old enough, you can explain that suicide is sometimes caused by mental problems. It’s important to emphasize that suicide is not caused by anything the person did or didn’t do.
  4. It’s natural for children to feel scared or worried after someone dies by suicide. Reassure your child that they are safe and that you will do everything you can to keep them safe. It’s very important for kids to get assurance that they are not responsible for the death and that they are safe. Therefore, open communication is key. If your child seems to be having a hard time, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help.
  5. Lastly, let your child know that it’s okay to talk about their feelings. It can be helpful to set aside some time each day to talk about how they’re doing. You can also encourage them to express themselves through art, writing, or play.

The death of a loved one is never easy, but it’s especially hard when the death is due to suicide. Use these tips to help you talk to your child about what happened. Remember that every child is different and will react in their own way. The most important thing you can do is offer support and love.

What Are the Signs That a Child Is Suicidal?

Sometimes, the death of a loved one could render a child feel isolated, confused, and hopeless. If these feelings persist and the child exhibits warning signs of suicide, it’s important to get help immediately.

Some common warning signs include:

1. Expressing Feelings of Hopelessness or Being a Burden to Others

One of the most common warning signs of suicide is a child expressing feelings of hopelessness or that they are a burden to others. If your child is frequently talking about how there’s no point in living or how they wish they were dead, it’s important to take these statements seriously.

Other warning signs could include feeling trapped, saying things like “it would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I wish I could disappear.”

If your child is exhibiting any of these warning signs, it’s important to talk to them about how they’re feeling. It’s also important to seek professional help right away.

2. Talking About Wanting To Die or Hurt Oneself

Another common warning sign of suicide is a child talking about wanting to die or hurt themselves. This could include expressing a desire to kill themselves, discussing how they would do it, or making a specific plan.

Other warning signs could include talking about how they wish they were dead, collecting pills or other items that could be used to hurt themselves, or hiding sharp objects.

If your child is exhibiting any of these warning signs, it’s essential to talk to them about how they’re feeling. It’s also important to seek professional help right away.

3. Giving Away Belongings

Sometimes, a child who is considering suicide will start giving away their belongings. This could be a sign that they don’t expect to live much longer and want to make sure their loved ones are taken care of.

4. Withdrawing From Friends and Family

Another common sign that a child is considering suicide is withdrawing from friends and family. If your child suddenly stops hanging out with their friends or participating in activities they used to enjoy, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Other warning signs could include spending more time alone, sleeping more than usual, or isolating themselves from loved ones.

What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Suicidal?

boy sitting alone

If you suspect your child is suicidal, the most important thing to do is talk to them about it. It can be difficult to bring up the topic, but it’s important to let your child know that you’re there for them and that you support them. If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, here are some tips:

1. Pick a Time When You’re Both Relaxed, and There Are No Distractions

Start by asking how your child is doing and how they’re feeling. If they seem hesitant to talk, let them know that taking their time is okay. You can say, “I’m just here to listen, I’m not going to judge you.”

If your child does open up, listen to what they have to say without interrupting. Show them that you’re taking them seriously by making eye contact and giving them your full attention.

2. Avoid Blaming or Lecturing

It’s important to avoid blaming yourself or your child. It’s also important not to lecture them on the importance of life. Instead, focus on how much you care about them and want to help.

You can say something like, “I’m worried about you, and I want to help. Can you tell me more about how you’re feeling?”

If your child is hesitant to talk, you can try asking open-ended questions like, “What’s been going on that’s been making you feel this way?”

Don’t be afraid to ask directly about suicide. You can say something like, “Have you been thinking about harming yourself or taking your own life?”

Asking directly about suicide will not make the thoughts go away or make them more likely to act on them. In fact, it can provide an opportunity for you to offer support and let your child know that they’re not alone.

If your child is reluctant to talk, you can try asking if there’s anything they’d like to talk about. You can also let them know that you’re always there for them if they need to talk.

If your child discloses that they are thinking about suicide, stay calm and tell them that you’re glad they told you. Thank them for being honest with you.

Reassure them that they are not alone and that you will help them get through this. If your child is in immediate danger, call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room.

3. Get Help from a Professional

If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, getting help from a professional is important. You can talk to your child’s doctor or a mental health therapist. If your child is in danger of harming themselves, they may need to be hospitalized for their own safety. You can also call a suicide hotline in your country for more support.

Things Parents Should NOT Do When Their Kids Are Suicidal

The following list includes a few things parents should never do when their kids are suicidal. If you’re a parent who is struggling with how to talk to your kids about suicide, hopefully, this will give you some guidance.

  • Don’t act like it’s not happening: It’s important to be honest with your kids about what’s going on. They’ll think that you’re not taking their feelings seriously if you act like everything is normal.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep: When kids are suicidal, they often feel like they’re a burden to everyone around them. Making promises that you can’t keep will only make them feel worse. For instance, don’t promise them you’ll never leave them alone if you know that’s impossible.
  • Don’t tell them to just snap out of it: This is probably the worst thing you can say to a kid who is suicidal. Telling them to just snap out of it implies that their feelings are invalid and that they’re just being dramatic.

It can be very hard to know how to talk to kids about suicide, but it’s important to remember that they need your support. Therefore, it’s important to be honest with them, make sure you don’t make any promises you can’t keep, and avoid telling them to just snap out of it. 

With your support, they’ll be able to get through this tough time.

What Are the Most Common Things That Can Push Kids To Be Suicidal?

Many different things can push kids to be suicidal. Some of the most common include:

  • Bullying
  • Relationship problems
  • Family conflict
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health disorders
  • Domestic abuse

Parents must always be attentive to any changes in their kids’ behavior. If you notice that your child is withdrawn, has lost interest in things they used to enjoy, or is engaging in self-harm, it’s important to talk to them about what’s happening. These could be warning signs that they’re struggling and may be considering suicide.

Conclusion

Suicide is a difficult topic, but it’s one that we need to discuss with kids, especially if they are showing signs of suicidal ideation or if a loved one has died by suicide. By having these conversations, we can help prevent suicide and save lives.

The most important thing is to be open and honest with your child and to let them know they can always come to you with anything they’re feeling. By having these conversations with our kids, we can help them understand that suicide is not the answer and that they are not alone.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to those who need it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I talk to my kids about death?

When talking to kids about death, it's important to be honest and open. You can explain that death is a natural process that happens to everyone. You can also talk about how we cope with the loss of a loved one and how death is not always permanent.

How do I talk to my kids about mental illness?

Sometimes, mental illness is the cause of suicide. When talking to kids about mental illness, it's important to be open and honest. You can explain that mental illness is a real and serious thing that should be talked about. You can also provide resources for how they can get help if they're struggling with their mental health.

How do I talk to my kids about bullying?

Bullying is another reason why some kids may feel suicidal. When talking to kids about bullying, it's important to let them know that it's not their fault and that they are not alone. You can also provide resources for how they can get help if they're being bullied. Parents must learn how to talk to kids about suicide properly. This way, they can provide the support their kids need and help prevent suicide.

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