Sensitively broaching the subject of suicide with young people.

Given the recent tragedy and death of Amber Peat the subject of suicide and how a young person comes to end their life is on everyone’s lips or at least in their thoughts.
Talking about suicide is a truly difficult topic to speak about, especially with young people but it is one conversation that is vital that we have, especially in school. When it comes to having these conversations or discussing the subject in any kind of media it is vital to consider the do’s and don’t’s below:

What you should and shouldn’t do.
-Don’t provide detailed descriptions of suicide methods.
-Never suggest that a suicide method is quick, easy, painless or certain to result in death.
-Use language carefully. Try to use non-emotive language – be factual rather than dramatic.
-Don’t use dramatic or sensationalist pictures or videos when talking or teaching about suicide.
-Do not discuss or share details from suicide notes or explore in depth details such as what a person was sharing in social media in the lead up to their death.
-Do not speculate about the cause or trigger for suicide even if this is based on suicide notes or reports from close friends and family.
-Do not allow blame to be associated with suicide. For instance if someone dies leaving behind children that does not mean that they are selfish.
-Use statistics with caution. Check with Samaritans to make sure you have the most recent data and are comparing like with like if you feel it’s important to share statistics.
-Signpost sources of support, both within and beyond school. Some students will prefer to access anonymous support. (Sources of support are highlighted below).
-Discuss the importance of students telling a trusted adult if they think a friend may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings.
-Offer specific support to any students whose lives have been impacted by suicide or suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts in the past as suicide incidents in the media can leave them highly vulnerable.

Sources of support.
There are some fantastic sources of support for young people experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, or concerned friends or family. Sharing helplines and websites as well as signposting the relevant routes for support at school is very important. It is helpful to make parents, as well as students, aware of sources of support. Provide clear guidance to parents as to who they should talk to at school and how, if they are concerned about their child or their child’s friend and feel free to talk to a member of our team at any point and with any question, query or need.

Source: Samaritans and Dr Pooky Knightsmith.

Leave a Reply