Regardless of the age, if a child has been directly exposed to suicide it is vital someone is able to discuss this with them in a way that is compassionate and honest.

Younger children are often given information that they find hard to process. We have seen it’s common for younger children to be told their loved one ‘had a disease in their brain’ or ‘they were not very well in their brain’. This is often deeply disturbing for children, who can be left worrying if they or someone else will get ill too. We have also seen that some children who are told things like, ‘Mummy is with the angels’ or ‘Daddy is in heaven now’ process this in such a way that they decide that they then want to die too, as it sounds rather nice to be in heaven with their loved one.
Ultimately, it is down to individuals such as parents and schools to decide when is the appropriate age and how to talk about suicide with children.

A significant risk factor for attempting suicide is previous exposure, therefore the subject should be approached in an age-appropriate manner using clear language relatable to the age group.
If a child has been bereaved by suicide, Support After Suicide offers this guidance.

If you work in education, the Guidance for Educational Settings Following A Suicide or Sudden Death can be found here.

If you are looking to engage your youth community in an age-appropriate discussion about suicide, we have a range of talks and awareness sessions that have been sensitively designed just for them.

For more information please see Empowering Conversations: Creating a Suicide Aware Community.