Most people understand how distressing the loss of a loved one can be. However, dealing with grief after a loved one commits suicide can be emotionally and physically overwhelming. Processing this grief is even more challenging for teens because of all the emotions and hormonal changes they are already facing in their lives.
Since the suicide rate of teen girls and boys has steadily increased over the last few years, your teen may have lost a classmate or friend to suicide. Allowing your teen to process their grief in a safe, effective manner is imperative to reduce their risk of developing depression or PTSD. Here are a few tips to help your teenager cope with the loss of a friend who committed suicide.
Communicate—Even If You Don't Know What to Say
There are no words that will take your teen's pain away if one of their friends commits suicide. Even if you do not know what to say, make sure to constantly communicate with your teen.
It is fine to talk about your teen's friend, sharing memories and experiences that you all have shared in the past. However, make sure not to push these memories into your teen's mind too soon, since they may not ready to remember the past or the good times they had with one another.
Make sure your teen knows you are there for them when and if they want to talk. Remain present, even if you have to be quiet, so your teen knows you are there for them.
Give It Time
Do not try to speed up your teen's grieving process, since each person will grieve in their own manner and in their own time frame.
After a period of time, you may think your teen should get back to normal life. Make sure your teen understands that their friend would want them to continue living and get back into a normal routine, even though they are no longer part of their everyday life.
Remember that there is no right or wrong time for when your teen should return back to school, work, and their everyday activities. If you not sure when your teen should return back to school, ask them if they are ready. Discuss how focusing on school work and seeing other friends at school can be beneficial for taking their mind off their grief.
Honor the Friend
Let your teen know you will not just sweep the suicide "under the rug." Do not be afraid to talk about your teen's friend and what led up to their suicide.
Consider gathering friends and family members of your teen's friend to have a memorial service. Light candles and play music that the friend enjoyed. Allow your teen and other friends to share stories and memories during the memorial service.
Another great way to honor your teen's friend is to have a fundraiser to earn money. This money can be donated to the friend's favorite charity or to a suicide prevention organization. Sell baked goods and crafts or arrange a marathon in their honor.
Know the Signs
Finally, make sure that you understand the signs of depression and the warning signs of a possible suicide to protect your teen's emotional and physical health and wellness. You may think your teen would never commit suicide, but the parents of your teen's friend probably had the same thoughts.
Certain signs, such as melancholy, fatigue, changes in eating patterns, and isolation are common while grieving. However, if the melancholy is worsening or your teen is giving away possessions, talking about their own death, or completely isolating themselves from work, school, and hobbies, they may be developing a severe form of depression that could lead to suicide. If this is the case, have your teen evaluated by a professional immediately.
After a friend's suicide, your teen will struggle. Thankfully, you can use these tips to help your teen after their friend's suicide. For more information, contact a company like Lifeline.Share