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How to talk about

Suicide

Suicide

In Surrey and Hampshire there were a combined 179 suicides in 2015.

The NSPCC figures reveal the number of boys between the ages of 10 and 19 taking their lives in our two counties is more than double that for girls.

Mental illness and suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, of any age, of any background, at any time. It isn’t always easy to see when someone is struggling, unlike a physical illness.

But there are some things to look out for...


What are the signs?

According to the NSPCC parents should look for the warning signs of depression, which could lead to suicide. These are:

  • becoming withdrawn from friends and family
  • persistent low mood and unhappiness
  • tearfulness and irritability
  • worries that stop them from carrying out day to day tasks
  • sudden outbursts of anger directed at themselves or others
  • loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy
  • problems eating or sleeping

If you think a child is in immediate danger don't delay – call the police on 999.


How do I talk to my child about suicide? 

If you think your child is feeling suicidal Samaritans has this advice:

  • Listen carefully to what they say; Ask them how they feel. If you're gentle and calm it's ok to bring up the subject of self-harm or suicide.
  • Try to be accepting and open-minded; Let your child know you are there for them, and that they are loved. Reassure them that it's ok to talk about their distress and that they have your support.

  • Offer to lend them a hand; You could offer to contact Samaritans, a GP or a counsellor. Avoid trying to take control though - many people who self-harm use it as a way of having some control over their lives.
  • Don't take it personally; Your son or daughter might not want to talk to you because you are too close to them. If this is the case you may want to encourage them to talk to someone they feel comfortable with.
  • Don't give them ultimatums; They don't work, and may drive behaviour underground. If someone needs to self-harm, they will find a way to do it somehow or other.
  • Try to understand your own feelings; You might feel hurt, devastated, shocked, angry, sad, guilty or powerless. If you're struggling yourself, you might want to call us or see a counsellor.

suicide

If you need to talk to a child about a suicide Help Starts Here has this advice:

  • First explain, “the person that died had been feeling very, very sad and could not think of any other way to end the pain/sadness.”

  • Explain what he/she did to end their life, “she took a whole bottle of pills which made her body stop working and then she died” or “he used a gun to make his body stop working, and then he died.”

  • Always end with saying that there was a better way to solve this problem.

  • While most people who are depressed are not suicidal, most suicidal people are depressed. Therefore, for school aged children one might say: “Mommy had a disease called depression which made her feel sad and/or angry. Because of the disease she could not think clearly like we do, so she could not think of any other way to get help or end her pain except to end her own life.”

  • Again, conclude by reminding a child there is always someone willing to help and suicide, or the act of making your body stop working, is not the right answer.

Remember: Dealing with a child who is struggling with mental illness can have an impact on the entire family.

Don’t forget to look out for the signs their siblings are struggling.


Where else can I get help?

  • Talk to their GP; They can listen, if your child's willing to talk to them and may refer them to specialist help

  • Talk to their school; Speak to the person in charge of child protection for the school or a teacher your child is particularly close to.

    They will have experience and procedures in place to deal with the situation and should provide a person your child can turn to at any time.

  • Tell your child about childline and Samaritans

  • Anonymously call Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.


© Produced by Adele Norris in association with Eagle Radio