How to Talk to Your Child About Suicide

Suicide Rehearsal – A rehearsal is not the same as a suicide attempt. The point of a rehearsal is to ensure that when a person chooses to commit suicide, the plan will work. (Testing the weight of a rope for hanging. Practicing cutting to be comfortable with the feeling and sight of blood. *Different than self-harming behavior.)

The presence of a suicide rehearsal is a significant risk factor for follow-through of a suicide attempt.

Suicide Attempt

A suicide attempt is an actual act of trying to end your life. The result is either death or a failed attempt.

Failed attempts may happen for three reasons.

  1. Someone or something interrupted the attempt.
  2. During the attempt, the person experienced regret, shame, or fear, and sought help.
  3. The attempt wasn’t lethal enough to end their life.

Secondary Gain – “Attention-Seeking”

Often the discussion is that if a person talks about suicide, they are just “attention-seeking.”  That is a dangerous line of thinking and not entirely accurate.

Again, the reason for suicide is to eliminate and alleviate the current experience of pain.  However, sometimes the source of pain feels as if no one cares, likes/loves them or wants them around.

The pain is real. The secondary gain of discussing suicide may be increased interactions and affirmations. That may become their way of alleviating their suffering.  The dangerous aspect of not believing the person is “actually” suicidal is that they may receive confirmation that no one does love or care.

How to talk to your kids about Suicide

  • Be proactive and upfront.
  • Share with them the finality of death.
  • Let them know your love and desire always to support them. No matter what!
  • Ask how suicide is viewed at their school or group of friends.
  • Ask if they know anyone or have any friends who are suicidal or talk about suicide.

I pray this post helps you to understand better why suicide happens and for you to feel better equipped to talk to your child about this ‘tough stuff topic.’

God bless!



A version of this post originally appeared on, published with permission.

Melissa Gendreau
Melissa Gendreau
Melissa Gendreau is a Licensed Mental Health Therapist and National Certified Counselor. She works at a Christian counseling center working with children, families and couples. Melissa's areas of exeperience includes: anxiety and depression, self-esteem, attachment disorders, parent education, trauma, marital issues, and autism. Her clients come from all walks of life and are on various paths in their pursuit to know Jesus. Melissa is also a wife and mommy to two pretty neat kids. You can learn more at her website or find her on Facebook or Twitter @humfaithfamwell.

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