How teachers can help

A child or young person bereaved by a family suicide will need support from their school. The structure and routine of school may provide a safe haven away from the grieving family. Try to keep things as normal as possible, but make sure that they have an opportunity to talk to you, another teacher or school counsellor, or to take time out to be quiet if they need to. Talk to their friends about how they can help too. 

Although some children or young people seem to cope at school without too much difficulty, many will show behavioural changes such as mood swings, being upset by small things, withdrawing or being disruptive in class. They may be unable to concentrate and fall behind or become completely wrapped up in their work. Special dates like birthdays, Christmas and the anniversary of a death will be particularly difficult. All of these are normal reactions and a sensitive approach should help the child or young person feel supported. 

If a student has taken their own life, you can try to help their classmates understand that there are other ways of solving problems and that help is available. Suicidal feelings are more likely to occur among people who know someone else who has died by suicide. Be alert to warning signs and provide help if necessary. Open discussion of what has happened is more useful than avoiding any mention of the death.