Suicide might not feel like a family-friendly dinner conversation topic, but perhaps it should be. Avoiding conversing about suicide leaves the topic to their imagination. It is important to speak to your children about how to cope and handle painful, confusing situations after a loss or a failure. Moreover, if your child is closely related to the person who committed suicide, it is important to take action quickly. The closer the tie, the deeper will be the emotions particularly if your child refuses to vent it out. However, before you sit down to discuss suicide, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Test Their Knowledge
It is important to gauge their knowledge by asking them questions about suicide. This will help you understand how little or how much your child knows about the topic. Clear all their doubts and myths and take on from there to further get into the depth of the matter. Here are 13 Subtle Signs of Suicidal Behaviour According to a Psychiatrist That We Miss Out On.
Don't interrupt them when they are keeping their heart before you. Just watch their body language and repeat their words to make them realise that you are listening. Be neutral and understanding in your approach. Here's How to Help Someone with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts.
Do Not Over Explain
Once you know how to tailor your conversation, keep it simple by offering only the necessary details and avoid over explaining. Avoid using vague terms like "passed away" or "went to sleep” as they can highly confuse your children. They might just start to believe that going to sleep at night will result in being separated from family for an indefinite period of time. Once you are done breaking it down to your child, go back to that active listening stage again and let them tell you how this conversation has made them feel.
If you feel that your child will get too panicky, avoid the details. Just make them understand that it is something that cannot be fixed at the moment. Just choose a positive language to help them understand that you are comfortable speaking about the topic. Also, stress on making them feel safe so that they know that they can come back to you to discuss other things that worry them and get help. Psychiatrist Lists 9 Things You Should Never Tell A Suicidal Person.
Stress on Intentional Death
While you speak about death, it is also important to make them understand that the death was intentional. Make them understand that the body should not stop working to make the thoughts stop. This will help them understand that when they feel sad or heartbroken in the future, they can always bounce back to you for help.
Sometimes when there is a case in school, a straightforward question like "do you have thoughts of suicide" can help them open up. Stay calm and listen to your child's feelings before you offer your own opinion. Hold back from immediately giving advice regardless of your child's opinion. An empathetic and validating response can assure your child that they can reach out for help.
If you are not happy with your child's response at the end of the conversation, let them know that there is always help available and make them comfortable knowing they can come to you as a start.