Mother feels upset and suspicious after son’s friend’s suicide
DEAR ANNIE: Last week, our son came home from high school and told us that a boy at his school had killed himself. The boy had been a friend of his since the fifth grade.
The school had a moment of silence over the public address system, but never mentioned the boy’s name. Most of the details about the suicide are nonexistent, although there are a few things mentioned on a website asking for help paying for funeral costs. Students who didn’t know the suicide victim are guessing it was caused by bullying. Our son says that’s not true. Some students are even saying the fund requests are a scam.
We haven’t heard anything about whether the school is offering grief counseling. We’ve talked to our son about the tragedy and are trying our best to help him. Because the students have no information, they are making wild guesses and placing uninformed posts on social media. My question is why is this tragedy so secret? Should the school do more?
— Sad Mom
Dear Sad: Sometimes, the school is ill-equipped to deal with such tragedies and does nothing, which tends to create a whirlwind of misinformation. Also, the administration may fear that mentioning the details would create copycat suicides. But the details do not need airing. The acknowledgement of mourning, however, is important.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org) offers a Toolkit for Schools, and you should mention this to the administration. The foundation is also an excellent resource for anyone dealing with suicide, and you will find information there that will help you talk to your son about his friend.