By Liz Cowen Furman:
Are you concerned that a young person in your life may attempt suicide while grieving the death of a loved one?
Help is available to help prevent teen or child suicide after loss.
After Papa’s death our kids were very upset; partly because they didn’t get to say goodbye. They planned to go to the hospital the next day to see him. We all thought he was coming home in a day or two, not going home forever.
Papa lived with us so our children were very close to him. Our oldest was 14. I was worried about him, so I called a local church (we had just moved and were between churches) and asked if my son could see one of their counselors. He only went for one visit, yet it seemed to help him immensely.
Sometimes just getting it off your chest is a very helpful thing. After a significant loss teenagers sometimes have a very difficult time coping. If you are helping a child through the loss of a loved one, especially if you are worried about teen suicide, below are some things to watch for and some helpful hints.
The death of a parent or other important person while the teenager still needs them can be devastating. At this age, their faith can be a big help. It is important that your teen has the chance to talk with adults who are also grieving. Expect that your teen will have things to say that are difficult. Be open to the possibility that they feel anger toward you or the one who left. Give them plenty of chances to talk about their feelings and be accepted.
Symptoms of Teen Suicide Risk After a Significant Loss
Seek help if your teen:
- Withdraws for more than a week or two.
- Doesn’t seem to care about school or other activities that were important to them before the death.
- Has trouble sleeping, does not eat, or starts having behavior problems such as destroying things.
Seek professional help immediately if your school age or teen child seems to be making plans to join the dead person and:
- Gives away treasured possessions
- Expresses desires to hurt or kill themselves.
A great resource for grieving children is the Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children and Families. At their website you can search here for support groups in your local area ( Grief Support Programs) and find additional help. They have special webpages on the site specifically for children and teens.
Tell your child: “Hold on to hope! You will get through this time. Grieving is hard work, but remember we are walking THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, we aren’t to stay there.”
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. (Psalm 138:7 NKJV)
My prayer for you today:
LORD I lift up the person reading this and ask You to give them your heart on how to help their child deal with the loss they are facing. May Your words be their words and may they all come out on the other side of this trial whole and closer to You than ever. In JESUS Name we pray. AMEN
Lift up to God any fear of child suicide after loss, and find support for your child if necessary. Here’s a video with more information about the Dougy center: