When Should a Child Dealing with Suicide Grief See a Health Care Professional?

The signs you need to pay attention to when caring for a child dealing with suicide grief depend on the child’s stage of development. Children experience and express things differently than adults. Don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional to find out if your child needs psychological support.

If your child shows signs of psychological distress, suicidal thoughts, depression, or posttraumatic stress disorder, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional immediately.

when to consult

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Signs that you need to seek professional help

Grief reactions in children usually diminish within 6 to 12 months. If the following signs are still present after 6 to 12 months, your child may need to see a healthcare professional for a psychological assessment:

  • Experiencing strong emotions associated with the death
  • Not engaging in exploratory behaviour (staying close to their parent(s),refusing to try new things, ceasing to interact with their environment and new people)
  • Becoming very anxious when separated from their parent(s)
  • Returning to behaviours associated with an earlier phase of development (e.g., having toilet accidents or tantrums in situations where they had stopped having them)
  • Complaining about physical problems with no physical cause (e.g., stomach aches and headaches)
  • Having a negative perception of the deceased person
  • Having nightmares
  • Being afraid of being around other people
  • Being afraid to go to school
  • Increasing substance use
  • Joining a new friend group that engages in risky behaviour
  • Developing suicidal thoughts
  • Engaging in self-harm
  • Developing sleep problems
  • Developing eating problems

Where to find professional help for a child

  • If you have insurance or sufficient financial resources, you can also contact the Quebec Order of Psychologists to find a professional able to meet your needs.

Learn more about suicide grief and children

Our “Telling a Child about a Death by Suicide” and “Supporting a Child Dealing with Suicide Grief” pages can help you find the information you’re looking for.

If you need help yourself because you’ve lost a loved one, our site also contains information and advice to help you cope with suicide grief.