Work with your child's school
Access headspace's comprehensive Suicide Postvention Toolkit
- inform your child's teacher and Principal about the death of your loved one by suicide; inform them of the assistance and resources provided by the headspace School Support Service
- ask the school to contact your child before they return to school and to ask your child what they would like the class to know about the death.
After the funeral
- discuss how the class can support your child e.g. send a card, share a memory, have a memorial activity
- review the plan for the school week
- emphasise the need for as routine a day as possible, allowing flexibility: times to talk about the death and its impact when students need such a discussion
- build in unstructured time during the school day if required
- identify a location and use of a safe room for student(s) who may require additional support.
- your child may have concentration and memory difficulties
- gently encourage them to ask for assistance with schoolwork at this time
- give your child informed choice and multiple options rather than take control
- each person's response to death needs to be honoured as his or her way of coping in that moment.
Some important ideas to share with a child about grief are:
- there are no right or wrong ways to experience grief
- there is no secret method that will take your grief instantly away
- there are no rules about grief; everyone grieves differently in their own way and in their own time
- there is no timetable for grief
- though it might seem hard to believe, it does gradually get easier to handle
- take all the time and space you need to grieve in your own way for as long as it takes, and keep safe as you go.
Ways to assist a child with grief:
- create an opportunity with a significant adult to enhance talking and/or creative expression (e.g. art, movement, music, etc.)
- invite peers over, encourage friends to spend time with them and offer support
- suggest they write, draw, or paint their thoughts and feelings
- maybe create something which expresses their feelings
- keep up the team sports or encourage exercising a couple of times a week
- encourage children to keep a scrapbook, memory box, or special draw/shelf to keep their loved one's memory alive
- model the above behaviours yourself.
It is particularly important to support those children and young people displaying at-risk behaviours, such as self-harm, expressing thoughts about killing themselves, destroying property or other risk-taking behaviour.
If a young person is contemplating suicide it is important they get professional support immediately. This may be your GP, psychologist, child and adolescent mental health service, Kids Helpline, Suicide Call Back Service, Lifeline.