26 Children, Teens and Suicide Loss How will I know if my child needs professional help? While most children and teens are ultimately able to adapt after a suicide loss, some are at risk for developing depression, difficulties at school, anxiety, or other challenges. While friends, family, or a support group may provide enough help for most children, some may benefit from working with a qualified mental health professional. Changes in a person’s sleeping patterns, eating habits, emotions, and behaviors are common after a death, but they become more concerning if they interfere with day-to-day life. Here are some indicators that children may need professional support: • Loss of interest in hobbies and friends • Ongoing difficulty sleeping or eating • Engaging in high-risk behaviors • Aggressiveness toward themselves (e.g., engaging in self-harm) or others (e.g., getting into fights) • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors Suicide bereavement counseling will not prevent the child from feeling the pain of grief, but it can help to identify pressing concerns and needs, and address them in healthy and productive ways. How can I find a qualified mental health professional who understands the issues of suicide bereavement? Trust your feelings. Choose a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and understood. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Does the therapist have experience and training in grief and sudden loss, and in working with children or teens? Are they comfortable working with suicide loss survivors? What is their treatment philosophy, what are their methods? An informed grief counselor will recognize the individual needs of each person’s grief, and won’t try to fit a client’s grief process into a particular theory or force someone to share before they are ready.