How to talk to your child about a tragedy

Death can be a difficult topic to talk about, especially when you’re talking about suicide.

We’ve seen TV shows where suicide is the focus of the story.

And most recently, we reported a local teacher who took his own. One that was beloved by family and friends in the community.

Which begs the question, as a parent, how do you start those conversations with your child? And what can you say to help console them?

It’s often an issue surrounded by silence or shame… murder, suicide, or the tragic death of a loved one. So when faced with that tough conversation, Supervisor for Access and Community Service Outreach at Community Mental Health, Lia Sibilski, says the key is remaining calm.

“As a parent, it’s our job to reach out and to help our children get the help they need,” says Sibilski.

Sibilski urges parents to openly discuss feelings such as sadness or depression. She says, it’s critical to re-assure young adults there are other options besides taking your own life.

“Be encouraging about that in asking, how are you doing, what’s going on, what you thinking, and let the know that there is help, and if they need help that you’re going to reach out and you’re going to get that for them,” says Sibilski.

According to Sibilski, parents should emphasize that suicide is not a solution and that resources exist to help get someone through tough times. But sharing beliefs about what makes life worth living is key, because after all, there’s always hope.


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