Today, a friend came by to ask me for my input about how she can support her 13 year old daughter whose friend died by suicide recently. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. I know it’s unrealistic, but somehow in my head, suicide happens to people older than 13. In my head, it happens to 58 year old cardiologists. In my head, 13 is much, much too young. That’s not the reality.
I’m so glad my girlfriend came over to talk to me. It wasn’t until I mentioned ways I handled my dad’s suicide that she connected that I have more experience with suicide than the average person (in hindsight, I’m not sure that’s actually true, but I talk about suicide and mental health. A lot.) My girlfriend needed to talk, to vent, to grieve for her daughter, for her own family and for that 13 year old’s devastated family.
I just got off the phone with my husband, who is hunting, this weekend. More tears. This whole situation is hitting me harder than I expected. It was hard to hear the story. It was hard to explain things that helped me. It was hard to look for resources that might help the kids who were close to the victim. It was hard to write a text to one of my boy’s favourite babysitters about how sorry I am for the loss of her friend. It was hard, but I will always do it. I will always talk about suicide and mental health. I will always encourage other people to talk about it. I think it is particularly important to let kids know that it is okay for them to talk about their friend, their feelings about what happened and to ask questions. My girlfriend’s daughter knows I am here if she wants to talk or if she has any questions.
Here are the resources I already know about which I passed along to my girlfriend:
The first one I would direct kids and teens to is the Kids Help Phone website, but more specifically their Info Booth section on suicide. It deals with what you can do if you’re feeling suicidal or have lost someone to suicide, as well as how you can help a friend. Not only is there information, but kids are reminded that they can call a counsellor at anytime 1-800-668-6868 or read through online forums for more information. It turns out their Ask Us Online area closed at the end of 2015 (what?!?!?!?) Though there is the option to Live Chat with a counsellor (Wednesday thru Sundays from 4pm-midnight in Alberta)