A question people ask me quite often is, "What can be done to help children who have lost a loved one to suicide?" And although there are a number of good resources for children survivors, I especially like Mariann Blacconiere's presentation as a quick but complete overview of the topic.
Mariann, a Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the VA in the Chicago area, begins her slideshow with an admonition to give accurate information to children when someone they love dies by suicide:
The truth can be talked about in ways that are open and honest and still protect the child. Often what a child perceives actually may be scarier for them than the truth itself. On the other hand, it is a good idea to refrain from being too graphic. If you are open and honest with them, you are teaching them that they can be the same with you. As a result, they will be prepared when others talk about what happened, and you will develop a more trusting relationship.She goes on to share a step-by-step process for talking to children about a suicide death, offering "customized" information for helping children of different ages (who are at different development stages in their lives and, therefore, have various understandings of the nature of death and grief). Her presentation also covers the nature of children's grief, how to help a child cope, and ways a child can say goodbye to the deceased.