Talking to others about what happened

You may be hesitant to share with others that your loved one took their own life. While we cannot determine what is right for you, in the long run most survivors are glad that they decided to be honest about the facts of the death.

What do I tell people about what happened?

You may be hesitant to share with others that your loved one took their own life. While we cannot determine what is right for you, please note that in the long run, most survivors are glad that they decided to be honest about the facts of the death. One of the most important reasons to be honest about the way your loved one died is that it will give your friends and family the opportunity to support you in an appropriate way.

What do I tell my children?

If you are the parent or guardian of minor children, it is up to you to determine whether to tell your children the truth about what happened. Please do bear in mind that people talk, and while you may not (yet) wish to share the nature of your loved one’s death with your children, it’s very possible that they will overhear adults discussing or speculating about the nature of the death.

When explaining the suicide to a child or adolescent, provide truthful information, encourage questions, and offer loving reassurance.

  • Reassure children that they are not responsible, and that nothing they said or did caused anyone else to take their life.
  • Be prepared to talk about the suicide multiple times during the first days and weeks, and later throughout the child’s life.
  • Consider a children’s bereavement support group for your child if they are having difficulty adjusting. Learn more about these groups through the Dougy National Center for Grieving Children and Families (dougy.org).

For more information about how to talk to children and adolescents, see Children, Teens and Suicide Loss.

How do I handle the media if the suicide has caught the public’s attention?

You are under no obligation to talk to the media about your loved one’s death, but if you choose to do so, it can be helpful to designate someone as the family’s spokesperson and for that person to have prepared remarks. You can also choose to give exclusive rights to the story to just one reporter. This way, if other reporters contact you or show up at your door, you can refer them to the reporter you’ve already entrusted with your story.

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