To come to terms with the suicide of a loved one takes time, indulgence and a lot of support. In general, it is difficult to understand what happened and it is difficult to explain it to children.
Whether it is an uncle, aunt, relative or friend who takes their own life, it is always extremely difficult for loved ones to understand and swallow. We tell ourselves that we may not have been the attentive ear that the person would have needed. We also tell ourselves that if we had been there, it would not have happened.
Suicide happens when a person hits rock bottom and if we can sometimes understand the reasons, it is always difficult to explain to children why this person did not get up and why he did not not look for solutions, as they are taught to do.
Take the blame
Almost all relatives of a suicide blame themselves in part. They remember more tense moments, conflicts or estrangement. Some hadn't spoken to him in months, others hadn't had time to see him, and the unlucky ones avoided him because they didn't know how to help him.
Still, it was no one's fault. Those who saw himless were not close enough to make a real difference, and those who loved him with all their hearts could not have listened better to this person who had nothing more to add. It is despair that leads to suicide, and unfortunately this despair speaks much louder than family and loved ones.
What if I had been there?
This is another way of laying blame. We say to ourselves “What if I had been there to talk to him, to prevent him…”. Again, no one can be blamed for this terrible act. If you had been there, the person would probably have waited for you to leave. It's not the fault of loved ones, it's no one's fault.
To add to the difficulty of prevention, sometimes a suicidal person suddenly becomes optimistic. If this person planned his suicide, he can perceive this moment as a release to come. She thus finds a little of her good humor, the time to make some gifts and to say goodbye. If so, even if you had been there you would not have been able to observe his distress.
Avoiding further suicides
One of the greatest risks associated with suicide is the possibility that others see this avenue as a potential solution and do the same. The recent death of actor Robin Williams, which has been widely talked about, has also made many fear that this highly publicized suicide will have a ripple effect. Suicide provokes funny reflections on life and how we do not want to blame this person that we will not see againmore, we tend to look for reasons for him.
During the following months, watch those close to you to prevent a person's suicide from turning into a wave of suicides, especially among adolescents who are going through great pain and are barely learning to accept failures, sorrows of love and the sorrows of friendship. Besides, it's a good time to explain to someone who is feeling vague that depression must be taken seriously and that it is important to talk or to consult when you feel unhappy and helpless. Sometimes, all it takes is talking to a professional once to find that our perception is bloating our problems out of proportion.
Explaining suicide to children
Suicide is simply the most extreme expression of great despair in which people are so affected mentally and emotionally that they are no longer able to find a solution.
Without going into the details of mental he alth, take the time to explain to the children that the person who committed the suicide was sick. For a child, this strange decision can take many faces and its interpretation can vary from trivializing this gesture to believing that it is his fault. To prevent this event from disturbing him too much, it is better to explain the situation in medical terms.
As with any bereavement, also take the time to check the impact of the events on the child. When he hears your conversations, when he sees the coffin,when he goes to the cemetery and when he sees loved ones crying with grief and rage, he too will need support. Keep an eye on your child and sit down whenever you sense a reaction of shock or pain. He'll probably need to talk, and you're in the best position to explain what's going on with words he understands.
Help a Friend in Need is a brand new resource brought to you by Facebook Canada in collaboration with Kids Help Phone. This document offers simple and practical tips to help young people aged 15-20 identify potential warning signs that could indicate that a friend is thinking about suicide.
So far in 2014, 7.5% of young people who have contacted Kids Help Phone have cited suicide as the primary reason for seeking help, representing thousands of young people across Canada.