Coping With Teen Suicide

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How does one go on after a teen child or friend commits suicide? For most parents it is unimaginable that their children will die before they do. When a teen takes their own life, not only are parents and friends filled with sorrow, but also feelings of guilt. While you will always miss the teen who committed suicide, you can help yourself to ease the pain.

Starting to Heal

You may experience feelings of guilt for not being able to stop your teen from committing suicide – those feelings are normal. You may feel angry at the teen who committed suicide because they left you alone. Again, those feelings are normal. Talking about your teen’s suicide will never be easy. However, it is important that you talk with others about what you are feeling. You may feel most comfortable talking with family and friends. If you do not have anyone close that you feel like talking with, you can go to a grief counselor. Sometimes it can help tremendously to talk to another parent who has lost a teen. You can find support groups in your area or online that can help you cope with your loss.

Things to Expect After a Suicide

The following list of things to expect after your teen commits suicide is excerpted fromA Handbook for Survivors of Suicide by Jeffrey Jackson(1). The things you may experience are not listed in any sequential order.

  • You may have periods of happiness and then suddenly you are hit with overwhelming sadness again. It doesn’t mean you are going backwards in your progress – it is normal. Things that could trigger these moments are favorite songs, pictures, food, smells, or anything that reminds you of your loss.
  • People may make insensitive remarks. If people make insensitive remarks about your teen’s suicide, you can simply say that you’re not ready to talk about it and avoid talking with them until you are ready or never.
  • You may feel like talking about the suicide long after others seem like they want to talk about it. Family and friends may feel like they keep giving the same advice or repeating themselves. If you need to keep talking, you should seek out a support group. Do not keep quiet if you feel you need to be heard.

Depression

You must be careful not to fall into a depression after your teen commits suicide. You will likely experience lack of sleep, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, loss of appetite, and the need to seclude yourself from others during your mourning. These feelings are normal. However, try to maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of rest, and let others help you (2). If your depression lasts and you begin contemplating taking your own life, you must seek professional help.

Sources for Help

A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide by Jeffrey Jackson was produced by the American Association of Suicidology (1) and is a great resource for anyone who has known someone who committed suicide. It can be downloaded for free in .PDF format from suicidology.org or by calling (202) 237-2280. Other great sources for help include:

  • The Link’s National Resource Center for Suicide Prevention and Aftercare – (404) 256-2929 thelink.org
  • SPAN USA (Suicide Prevention Action Network) – (888) 649-1366 spanusa.org
  • Compassionate Friends – (877) 969-0010 compassioatefriends.org

Coping With Teen Suicide Sources:

  1. American Association of Suicidology [online]
  2. KidsHealth [online]