February 9, 2015
Recently our local news has been full of tragic stories about the deaths of young people from suicide. At Fernside, we track cause of death for the families who attend our groups each year. Several years ago we experienced an increase in suicide deaths. And now we’re seeing it again.
Consistently over the past three years, 9% of the children participating in our program were grieving a death from suicide, the fifth leading cause of death for our families. With our current group year only half over, those numbers have dramatically increased to 15%, almost double. Of those deaths, 45% were suicides of young people.
How are we responding?
Through our Crisis Response Program, we provide grief support to schools when a suicide death has impacted their school community. This includes faculty education, parent workshops, and crisis groups for those students most directly affected by the death.
Families grieving the suicide death of a child attend our Sibling Loss Night, one of our seven group nights. At their twice-monthly meetings, the children and teens, as well as their parents, meet with peers to address the loss in their family.
Can we do more?
Last week, one of our peers, the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas in San Antonio, formed a coalition of mental health groups, state agencies, school districts, advocate organizations and others to address suicide among the young. Although our mission is supporting children and teens after a death, reading about this effort has inspired us to take a closer look at what’s being done in our community to address this important public health issue. If you’d like to be part of the conversation, let us know!
Several years ago we published a third booklet in our How to Help series,
How to Help a Grieving After a Suicide.