How do I tell others what happened? How much should I tell children?

One of the difficult decisions after a suicide is what to tell others, including children. There is a tendency to want to keep the circumstances of the death a secret as a protection to yourself or others, but sharing the truth in a straightforward way can be the most healing approach. Use good judgment in how much information you share with others and when. Be aware that some people will listen and communicate better than others, and even well-meaning individuals may make insensitive or judgmental remarks. Try to recognize the love and comfort they intend rather than taking offense.

Child grief experts teach that children need to be told the truth about suicide in a way they can understand according to their age. Let children talk about and remember the person who died, and allow for complicated emotions and differing grieving styles. Let children know that you are available to talk about their questions and help them process their grief. You may want to consult with a child counseling professional to help in this process.

President George Q. Cannon reminded us of a constant source of support when he said: “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. . . . He will [always] stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them” (quoted in Jeffrey R. Holland, “Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 127).

Church and Community Resources

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