Please feel free to contact the school or any of the numbers listed regarding your child’s well-being.
- Banff Mineral Springs Hospital Crisis Response Team Counsellors 403-762-2222
- District School Family Liaison Counsellor, Lynne Ratzske 403-609-0756
- FCSS Town of Banff, Shawn Carr 403-762-1255
- BCHS Guidance Office, Myka Piekenbrock 403-762-4411
- BCHS School & Family Wellness Worker, Ashley Butenschon 403-762-4411
- Distress & Suicide Prevention Line 24 hours/day 1-888-787-2880
- Dial 211 for for help with addictions, childcare, depression, financial concerns, immigration issues, unhealthy relationships
- Bow Valley Connections Centre for students with developmental delays Visit bowvalleyconnectionscentre.com
- Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 Text 686868
Death & Suicide
Considerations when talking with children about death and suicide
Talking with children about death can be challenging. There is no one right way to discuss such information and how and what you choose to share will be influenced by your personal experiences and spiritual beliefs. The following are some general considerations depending on your child's age.
- Share brief and simple information with younger children
- Check with the child what they have understood of what you have explained
- They may need reassurance that you will not be leaving them; “I expect to be around A LONG TIME to take care of you.”
- Keep in mind younger children often connect things or events together in a casual manner that are not related, e.g. “Granny is taking a long sleep”…does this mean I will not wake up from my sleep, when will granny wake up from her sleep, etc…
- Share with the child in an age appropriate manner that the person committed suicide, or “caused their own death”
- Explain to them that people die in different ways and from many different causes, this is just one of them
- "Their brain was really sick” or “not well”
- They were very sad because their brain was sick, but don’t worry not every one who is sad/depressed wants to hurt themselves
- Reassure the young person that they can always talk to you if they feel sad or ever have thoughts of hurting themselves
- Teenagers have a greater appreciation of conflicting feelings surrounding suicide and death, however they still need support and reassurance as they may regress in their functioning when exposed to such a sudden loss
- Explore with the young person their thoughts and feelings about the incident without being judgmental about their feelings. All children will cope with death and suicide differently, as would any adult. They will look to you for guidance and support during such times of loss. If you are grieving reassure them that you will be OK, that such feelings are normal and healthy, and if you cannot attend to their needs in the moment to provide them with alternative supports.
These are simple guidelines for your consideration; tailor them to meet the needs of your family, and your child’s age and level of maturity.
For more information: www.suicideinfo.ca
- Bart Speaks out: Breaking the Silence on Suicide by Linda Goldman, M.S.
- Child Survivors of Suicide: A Guidebook for Those Who Care For Them by Rebecca Parking with Karen Dunne-Maxim
- When Dinosaurs Die – A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown
- The Grieving Child: A Parent’s Guide by Helen Fitzgerald
- Talking About Death: A Dialogue between Parent & Child by Earl. A. Grollman
Canmore Mental Health Clinic: 403-678-4696 / 403-762-4451
Teens & Grief
The following is intended to help identify and support teens who may be coping with the death of a loved one. Please remember that grief is a very individual process and will vary with the individual and the circumstances surrounding the loss.
- Teens may demonstrate intense sadness or anger that seems “out of the blue” but is, in fact, related to the death.
- In an effort to seem “normal”, teens may suppress feelings or feel “numb” or indifferent.
- Self-blame and guilt are particularly common responses in teens.
- Fear can be a common grief response, particularly in the case of a peer’s death when teens are often faced with their own mortality for the first time.
Behavioural responses may include the following
- Withdrawal from peers, family, extra-curricular activities
- School grades and participation in school activities may decline
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, loss of appetite, fatigue
- Increase risk-taking behaviour such as skipping school, use of alcohol and drugs
- Anger and increased aggression
From experience grieving teens give this advice
- Don’t get upset if I don’t want to talk
- Trust that I know what I need
- Don’t push me
- Talk about it with me. Help me remember the good times
- Give me space
- Be patient, don’t worry too much
- Just listen, you don’t have to give advice