Helping children understand and process suicide

Amy Luster, MA, MFT Psychotherapist, shares advice for parents on the best way to help kids understand and process the suicide of someone they knew
How To Help Children Understand And Process Suicide
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Helping children understand and process suicide

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When your child is coming to terms with the death of a loved one, whether it’s a friend or a sibling, through suicide, it’s important that they understand that they are not responsible for what has happened. They might need to be reminded of this frequently. Anticipate that they may feel a sense of how they could have or should have intervened or known that this was coming. Spending time with their peers can be very helpful – this allows them to process the feelings and grief with others who share their love for the person who died. Involve your child, if at all possible, in death or funeral rituals or traditions as opposed to leaving them outside of this. Use simple, concrete terms for what has happened as opposed to euphemisms. It’s better for them to hear it from you and be able to talk in a safe place about what happened, even if it feels really graphic and uncomfortable. They need to be able to talk about this in a place that’s safe where they can share their sadness, their anger, their frustration with somebody who will understand and support them no matter what. And eventually, encourage them to find a way to memorialize their friend or sibling.

Amy Luster, MA, MFT Psychotherapist, shares advice for parents on the best way to help kids understand and process the suicide of someone they knew

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Amy Luster, MA, MFT

Psychotherapist

Amy Luster, MA, is a psychotherapist and author. She holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and provides psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and families. She runs a group entitled, Parenting After a Loss which offers support, guidance, and education. Her emphasis is on assisting parents who have experienced a child-bearing loss whether from ongoing infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a baby. Her goal is to help families function in a healthy, satisfying way despite their past loss. Amy, her husband and their four children live in Santa Monica, CA. 

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