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Talking about suicide

(8 Posts)
Jezzabelle Wed 19-Nov-14 21:12:12

My 8.5 year old has been reading another Jacqueline Wilson book. She's read them loads with no problems. This one (Bad Girls) has some difficult content to say the least! I know there will be people who will probably judge and think I should have vetted her reading material first....but I didn't! (I am a slow reader, (dyslexic) and she reads prolifically!)

She came down a few nights ago and asked what committing suicide meant. I have always been honest with her and answered her questions as much as I can. She is a bright, articulate and emotionally mature girl. I told her that it was when someone killed themselves and that it was extremely rare and usually happened when someone was ill in the head. We talked about this in a bit more detail. She carried on reading the book...(I know, I know!) and tonight came and asked me what "hanged herself" meant. I said it was time to stop reading and that I would talk to her about it tomorrow.

What would you do? I am not in an emotionally great place right now as my DH left me recently. Just throwing this in as I think it might be relevant in my need to get this discussion right. Also, my female cousin hanged herself when she was 16, before I had my DCs. This is something I would have talked to her about one day, but probably 10 years from now! Help me work out what to say please. Not feeling strong enough to work it all out by myself just now!

Griffomais Wed 19-Nov-14 22:47:25

Remove the book - 10 years old is very young to be exposed to this kind of thing. It's bad enough when you figure out people die but suicide is another matter completely. Take some time to go through her books and google a few of the titles to see for yourself what's suitable. Sorry you're going through an emotional hard time - hope you're ok.

wheresthelight Wed 19-Nov-14 22:56:51

unfortunately many of the Jacqueline Wilson books are totally unsuitable for the age group they are pitched at.

taking the book away will only increase her interest and prompt her to look elsewhere for answers. I would put it as simply as possible and not give too much detail at the moment.

I would also try and steer her away from this author!!

Molotov Thu 20-Nov-14 14:00:17

My bright, articulate and sensitive dd1 (almost 6yo) was intrigued by suicide around the time Robin Williams' death was in the news.

I steered around it by saying 'no-one knows what happened yet - ooh! Look over there! ', but during a sleepover at my parent's house, she asked my DM who told her he had killed himself shock hmm angry

So I was forced into the situation where I had to explain something so complex and sad to my little girl.

I just said something along the lines of that people kill themselves when they have lost hope. It is very, very sad but there is no problem that we cannot figure out - there is an answer to everything.

I even linked in the Trolls from Disney's Frozen who always work out solutions to really tricky problems.

I don't get bogged down in detail. Dd wanted to know precisely why Williams died but I then go on repeat 'he was very sad. He lost hope - poor Robin Williams; he needed to talk to his family and friends'.

Meanwhile, if I were you, I'd shelve those Wilson books for now and try to completely take he mind off it. Get her into reading some classic children's literature, filled with magic and wonder instead smile

catsofa Thu 20-Nov-14 14:50:52

OK "hanging herself" is the same as "committing suicide". That'll do. Then maybe ask if she's felt ok reading that book, it sounds quite sad and does she want to talk about it.

If you remove the book or overreact then you're teaching her that it's not ok to talk about suicide, and the one thing we know helps most when people feel suicidal is being able to talk about it. Later in her life this could be a useful conversation to have had. Let her do the talking mostly so you're not putting any of your own feelings about suicide onto whatever she has made of it.

"I am not in an emotionally great place right now" It might be worth just throwing into the conversation that it's quite rare for someone to feel so bad they actually think about committing suicide, for example you've never felt like that yourself and most people probably never do... just in case she's picked up that you're a bit unhappy yourself and is ever worried that any of this applies to you.

Make sure she understands that authors tend to write similar books, so other Jacqueline Wilson books are likely to have equally upsetting things in them, if indeed she is actually finding this one upsetting. But if she keeps deliberately choosing books in a similar vein then perhaps she is ready to think about these issues, so just make sure she can talk about them too!

If you look up a book on Wikipedia it usually gives a summary of the plot so you don't have to read the whole book yourself, which might be helpful.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Girls_%28Wilson_novel%29

Jezzabelle Fri 21-Nov-14 16:57:33

Thank you for all your responses. Just to fill you in on the latest...I had an hour alone with DD1 as DD2 was at a friends and took the opportunity to talk to her. I agree with those who said that if I try to brush it under the carpet and refuse to discuss it, it is likely to become an issue that she thinks is so awful it should never be discussed, with possible implications for the future.

I began by talking a bit more about suicide. She just said "Yes I know, you explained about that before". She genuinely doesn't seem too phased by it just now. I guess her young mind doesn't process the enormity and horrifying nature of suicide like we do as adults. When I mentioned the phrase "hanging herself", she said, "actually I don't think I want to know about that, the character in the book says it gives her nightmares. Do you think it might give me nightmares?" I said that it might and she decided not to have the explanation.

It was a lot easier than I thought and reaffirmed to me that it really is ok to talk to them pretty much anything that they ask about, but to try not to expose them to the subjects in the first place! It was a particularly poignant conversation for me to have with her as recently my DH has been suicidal. I believe he will not act on this now but know that I also came closer to most to having to discuss suicide with my DDs for a very different reason. In the case of a bereaved child, research shows that honesty around the circumstances is the best policy. Sorry, think that was a bit off the point! It's just been a subject that has been very relevant in my life recently.

Molotov Fri 21-Nov-14 20:11:04

Well done OP, it sounds like you handled that well smile

Best wishes to you and your family thanks

catsofa Fri 21-Nov-14 21:02:20

Yes well done you, that sounds like it went really well. Hope you're getting the support you need with what you're having to deal with xx

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