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Child Suicide

QUESTION: Child Suicide - How Does a Parent Cope?


Depression ending in suicide is the third leading cause of death in children between the ages of 10 and 19. How does a parent cope with child suicide? Losing a child to death is a difficult and painful experience that epitomizes every parent's worst conceivable nightmare. It violates all of the normal expected outcomes of the cycle of life through which all parents journey. Every mother or father enters parenthood believing that the years ahead will be filled with the joys associated with child-rearing, both loving and being loved by a child. When a child dies, most parents feel as if a part of them has died as well. Dreams and hopes for the future lay in ashes and parents are left with the agony of excruciating grief, frequently compounded by feelings of failure associated with their not having been able protect their child.

But, what does a parent go through who loses a child by suicide? How does a parent cope with such a devastating loss? Grief is compounded as loved ones are left in a state of sudden shock, struggling to grasp the enormity of such a horrific event. In the aftermath of a child suicide, a parent may ask questions and most of these question have no answers. How did we not realize that our child was in so much pain? Was this a moment of melodrama that ended tragically? Did my child really mean to take his or her own life? What could I have done to prevent this? What did we do to cause our child to be so unhappy? Where did we fail as parents? Many parents suffer from the distressing images that accompany finding their child, when it is too late. Some experience other trauma-related symptoms which may include nightmares; reliving the experience over and over, sleep disturbances, ongoing feelings of anxiety, and depression. It is common for a parent who is struggling with these symptoms to ask, "Am I going crazy?"

How does a parent cope with the suicide of a child? The answer to such a question begins with realizing that recovery from such a painful loss happens, one day at a time. Survivors of a child suicide need to be gently helped to accept that their child has chosen to end life because of deep emotional pain. While suicide has put an end to the emotional pain of a child, it is only the beginning of the pain that will be felt by the parents. The aftermath of a child suicide is not the time to offer pat advice. Parents forced to cope with child suicide need a strong support system made up of friends and family who will listen, love, and just "be there" through the initial raw pain of loss.

Learn More About Coping With Suicide of A Child.

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