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When Teen Suicide Hits Home

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Would you know how to respond if a classmate committed suicide at your child's school?


The tragic news of three teenagers from the same Massachusetts high school committing suicide leads to the troubling question: What should we say to kids if, or even before, it happens to one of their peers?  Dr. Peter Gutierrez, president of the American Association of Suicidology, talks about the scary idea of suicide being contagious.

  • Un-glamorize it: "Kids see people are sad and paying a lot of attention to this event. An adolescent mind thinks, 'If I kill myself I will get that attention too.' The vital fact they're missing is that when they're dead, they won't be enjoying that attention," Dr. Gutierrez says.
  • Be prepared: Moms should be ready for their kids to ask tough questions. If you don't know the answer, don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." Kids don't expect you to have all the answers.
  • Keep talking: Dr. Gutierrez stresses having many talks with your child if a suicide occurs. Ask your kids how they're feeling and if they've ever thought about killing themselves. Let them know it's OK to be sad and even angry at the person who died.

    Teens' initial reaction to a death can be strong, but if they are sad and weepy for several months, your child may benefit from professional counseling. Dr. Gutierrez recommends calling the National Lifeline at 1800.273.TALK. for local resources and support groups in your area.

next: Reflections on the Childless Bitch
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
SugarPlumFairy March 19, 2008, 11:39 AM

This is so sad. But that you for the tips!

Ashley Milliron March 19, 2008, 11:47 AM

My name is Ashley and I am 17 years old. I am A junior in Cameron County High school. I am very inspired by the fact that people are finally starting to takl about the teenage suicide. For so many years we have just pushed suicide under the rug because if we dont talk about it it wont happen. That is so wrong. I am working the mental health center in my county and we a putting a suicide awareness program in the high school. I want to help educate my fellow peers on how serious teen suicide is. We need to talk about it in order for it to get better. I have gone through a lot of trouble trting to get this program in the school because like many others they fell if they dont talk about it then it wont happen. I feel that it is very improtant for parents to talk to there children about also. I understand tenagers are always pushing there parents away. I am one myself but dont let that stop you from trying to talk to them. THIS IS A VERY SEIROUS SUBJECT!

inzainyah June 12, 2008, 4:25 AM

i feel like killing myself 24/7 but the only thing that stops me is my family i think “wat would they do after i did it? would they kill themselves too? or will i be alone?”

Michelle December 29, 2008, 3:18 PM

A kid at my school commited sucide, so that was a bit shocking.

Cynthia February 24, 2009, 10:11 AM

This tragedy has hit home for me. My 19 y/o son, Joshua, was found dead in Amsler Park/McGregor, Texas on February 16, 2006. McGregor police did not investigate! (Joshua Robinson (Joshua Robinson)
Both have attached documents, including a petition/comment section, and persons you can contact to get justice.
Please take the time to at least take a look at this story.
I’m not the only mother, and we, as a group, are shouting out for the truth…for resolution…for justice…for peace of mind!

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