04-21-2017 06:19 PM - last edited on 04-24-2017 11:22 AM by Ngaio-RO
Many of you know our backstory. This is too close to home really.
16 days ago one of the girls in my daughters year committed suicide & today was her funeral.
Could there be anything worse than a hundred of so distraught young people trying to deal with the shock & grief if it?
My daughter was last to leave. Frozen by the graveside.
She asked me to have them open the coffin because she needed to see her friend
Knowing that she has been very close herself she has expressed that it should have been her.
After the funeral I asked her to please contact me if she is ever feeling unsafe (something I say often & she agrees to) and I asked her to please never let it be our family sitting on those chairs beside the grave.
*sorry if this sounds harsh - our "normal" is different now
How do I help her through this? And keep her safe?
04-21-2017 09:16 PM - edited 04-21-2017 09:46 PM
Hi @LovingThruBlue . I am so sorry to hear that your daughters friend took her life ,and that your daughter who you say has been previously at risk had to experience this awful life changing trauma . For you and your precious girl it must be particularly painful and confronting as the issues that haunted her friend must resonate with you too . I cannot ever begin to understand what you must be feeling or grappling with . This is just horrific.
There is no perfect response to this momentous event but it can be a catalyst for you to speak to a professional about how you should proceed now. What could be a trigger ? What should we discuss ? What should we avoid discussing ? What do I need to look out for in the future . How close do I keep her to me without suffocating her ?
I remember watching a documentary once about a suicide cluster in a bleak little town called Merthyr Tydfil in Wales ( my homeland) It was so strange because one family sat around their tiny lounge room talking about the most recent suicide . The boys best friend / cousin had been the most recent suicide and the family discussed it extensively . The mother said to the boy , " you would never do it too would you ? " . The boy said " no way , I know how much damage and pain it causes the family ."
The next part of the doco voice over said the following week the boy had killed himself. I could hardly believe what I was seeing ! How could that be possible ?! They family were all well informed about what had gone on in the town and they had spoken together about it extensively but why wasn't it enough ?
Then it transpired that the boy had said he was mentally sick 3 weeks later and was struggling with his cousins death . He had told his Mum this one morning and that he was very depressed and possibly suicidal , she was concerned but had let him get on with the routine of his day alone , he then presented to ER and they sent him home because they were busy !!
The problem was not enough love , concern , or even psychoeducation it was lack of crisis action when it was most needed . You are a Mum who is very vigilant hyper tuned to the nuanced behaviours of your child , her particular mental health patterns, and understand that her words need to be taken seriously and acted upon immediately . You would have stuck by her side UNTIL and got her professional help immediately, I am sure .
Trust your ability to read your child , you are attuned to her moods and the history you have between you already, is already a protective shield and a buffer to the trigger for impulsive fatal behaviour.
It is imperative that she truly "gets " that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary feeling . The wave of deep emotional pain , depression or despair will pass . They are like waves that swell and ebb and putting herself in the hands of someone who will love and take care of her until the wave passes is paramount . Tell her she can ride that way , you will ride it with her , and she can come out the other end ok , she has done it before and will do it again .
Tell her repeatedly to come to you at bad times and say " Mum , right now I can't be responsible for my wellbeing . I need you to take over me and do whatever you need to do to keep me safe because I do not have the capacity to do this for myself " .
She may start to go through an intense period of grief over the loss of her friend . Make sure you explain to her the 5- 7 stages of grief and educate yourself on strategies to deal with the grief .
Some things you could do to help the grief process :
Making a memorial book / video about her friend , writing her goodbye letters , setting up a foundation , planting a tree , burning a candle and reciting a prayer or poetry .
Get together with other friends and share happy funny memories , expressing the joy she brought you and the way she contributed to your lives in a positive way , pictures, videos a special trip to her favourite place to place flowers . This would also be a good opportunity for you and her friends to talk about the impact of the suicide on her family and her friends . How has her suicide impacted you all ? What could she have done differently ? What could have you done differently ? What would you do if you felt that low ? What have you learned from her passing ?
Tell her the grief will take time to become an integrated part of her life and that the beautiful spirit of her friend will stay with her , in her heart and in her soul. Tell her that she can honour her friends memory by living well and being the best she can be at life . This is what her friend would want for her . It is the greatest gift to those we have loved and lost .... living well for ourselves and for their spirit and memory .
04-21-2017 11:14 PM
04-22-2017 08:02 AM
This is why I love the support of these Reachout forums! Thank you so much.
I will put the number of the SCBS in my phone and also my daughters @Sophi-RO - great idea.
@motherbear - thank you so much for all of your fantastic advice. There are so many great suggestions there and it will certainly helps. It's such a scary time and of course during the service I kept thinking that it could be/have been our family there dealing with that unbearable pain. It is the knowledge of suicide clusters that is terrifying me. Your post is so true, I know at times she feels like I'm smothering her but I'm scared and I'm trying to find the place in the middle. That's tricky. Thanks again for your wonderful reply
04-24-2017 11:15 AM
Hey, @LovingThruBlue I just wanted to check in with you to see how the weekend went for you both.
I also wanted to wholeheartedly agree with what @motherbear has said.
It is a standard practice when working with both young people and adults, to try and get them to see themselves as the 'author of their story' and to realise that they are the greatest authority on their own lives and therefore just need support to find their own answers. Many of the parents here, including yourself, appear to use that approach and get great outcomes from it. It's encapsulated in the questions "what do you need?" and "how can I help?" But just as
But just as @motherbear says, sometimes when we are supporting someone who is in great distress, they just can't find their way to an answer that is healthy for them. So we need to switch to "this is what I need you to do." or "this is what we are doing." Which I often find a bit difficult but do it because I know that's what they need.
It's easy to see what a devoted, dedicated and pro-active parent you are. And I know I'm telling you things you're already doing but I just wanted to affirm for you that your vigilance is warranted and I'm yet to encounter a young person who looks back on a very dark period of their life and says "I wish my mum had loved me less during that time."
Here are some of our resources you might find helpful. This one is helping your teenager with suicidal thoughts and this one is creating a safety plan. Although the safety plan may not be necessary for you guys.
Also, here is the resource on talking to your teenager about suicide. I thought you might find it helpful to have this close at hand in case another parent of your daughter's classmates is struggling to support their teenager through this experience and they don't have your amazing knowledge. It's easy to download and share or print as a pdf. Hope that's of some use.
Do you know if Headspace will be supporting the school? They have one of the biggest Federal programs of supporting schools and students when there has been a suicide.
04-24-2017 05:36 PM
Hi @Ngaio-RO. I'm not exactly sure if Headspace is supporting the school but they may be because the school sent out one of their brochures to parents over the holidays.
My daughter started off with a structured safety plan which has now kind of become "promises" we make to each other.
Trying to find the balance between safety and "smothering" her is very hard for me at times like this.
I do have to change my boundries like you mentioned e.g I'm not happy for you to sleepover at the house of a friend I don't know because I need to know you're supported Or that she needs to keep her door open at "bad" times
04-25-2017 12:50 AM
My heart goes out to you and your daughter @LovingThruBlue. It must such a hard time and i can imagine you must be terrified to be too far from her, or trust others with supporting her. You're doing a fabulous job supporting your daughter and being there for her.
To be honest I don't know if now is the right time, or if you think it might help your situation, but I have a question I gently asked my daughter when she was feeling suicidal - "Are you feeling like you want to die, or are you needing to escape how you're feeling?" It helped me to establish what I was dealing with, it made her think about it. When she's feeling suicidal now, often she'll tell me straight up that she wants to live but she's really struggling to cope. Being able to differentiate somehow makes a change for her. @Ngaio-RO what are your thoughts on this?
04-25-2017 12:56 PM
Thank you for your kind words @taokat. With school going back tomorrow I used that this morning as an opportunity to make plans for the new term (having a go at extending her hours there a little) and also used it to check where she's at a little. I did ask her if she has recently had any thoughts of actually ending her life (different to not caring if it ends) and she said not recently. So that's good.
Time will tell how the kids are all going once school goes back because her friend's death was 3 days before end of term (my daughter didn't attend those last 2 days). My hearts go out to the school staff - what a task
04-26-2017 12:31 PM
@taokat I think that sounds like a great approach. When parents are able to say the words out loud it gives the young person the strength to do it too. If nobody can say out loud 'suicide' or 'end your life' or 'die' then it makes the young person feel like it's a dirty secret they should be ashamed of. By asking her directly whether she wants to die or wants to escape it teaches her that her feelings don't need to be hidden like a source of shame but can be exposed to the sunlight and shared with someone she trusts. Which is exactly what she needs for her adult years.
04-26-2017 06:07 PM - edited 04-27-2017 01:18 PM
I'm glad you're daughter hasn't had suicidal thoughts recently. Hopefully if you maintain that open conversation it will help give you a little peace of mind too @LovingThruBlue. Yes, an unenviable job for the school staff. It might be hard for everyone for a little while yet.
Thank you for that @Ngaio-RO. It was suggested to me that I ask my daughter those questions, but being such a sensitive subject I just wanted clarification that it was okay to put up here. I absolutely agree with you that it takes the shame out of it when it can be talked about in a safe loving environment. I do honestly believe that it's helped my daughter to be able to clearly distinguish between wanting to die and wanting to escape her mind and emotions.