Dr Justin Coulson's Happy Families

#889 Talking to Your Kids About a Suicide

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Episode notes

*Content warning: mature themes - listener discretion advised*

How do you talk to your kids when they are touched by the profound loss of a loved one through a suicide? These hard conversations must be had openly with your children - with kindness, compassion, and empathy. Your job is NOT to tell them everything, but to answer their questions honestly, in an age-appropriate way. 

Topics in this episode:

  • Protecting children from pain
  • Limited evidence for how to have these conversations
  • Keep your reactions level
  • National Centre for Childhood Grief
  • Keep the conversation age/developmentally appropriate
  • Young Children and Middle Childhood:
    • Keep it simple
    • Operate on the principle of 'the fire hose'
    • Answer questions honestly (to the degree with which they are curious) - the more general you can be, the more protected your child will be
    • Offer empathy
    • Talking helps to dispel misinformation and stigma and creates a safe space to ask questions
    • Encourage questions about anything, and at any time
    • Ensure they understand what "dead" means. Give concrete answers, not idioms or euphemisms
  • Expect and accept a range of emotions (and behaviours!) from your child, which will change daily. Let them feel safe to let it all out

Picture Books for Helping Children Navigate Grief

For help:

In Memory of Logan - Happy Families

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