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Helping Teens Heal From the Suicide of a Father

by Candice Coleman

Suicide leaves a scar on surviving friends and relatives, and teenagers who lose a father to suicide might struggle to get back to their lives. Depression, irritability and anxiety might be common feelings for grieving teens. While a teen might always mourn the loss of her father, helping her get back to school and work will benefit her in the long term.

Lifestyle

Getting back into a routine after a father's suicide might seem difficult, but it can give teenagers something else to focus on as they handle their grief, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A return to school, work and extracurricular activities can also provide teenagers a sense of normalcy. Returning to routine does not mean that a teen's late father is no longer mentioned. Parents, family members and friends should make a point to talk to a grieving teen about how he's feeling.

Talking

A father's suicide can be especially painful because a teenager might believe he played a role in his father's decision to commit suicide, according to KidsHealth.org. Encourage a teenager in this circumstance to see her doctor to discuss the feelings she is experiencing. Let the teen know that you are available to talk and that you can help her find someone else to talk to if she needs it. If a teen does not want to talk, respect her wishes and let her know that you will be available if she changes her mind.

Helping a Loved One

Birthdays, holidays and other events can become painful reminders of a father who is no longer around, according to the Mayo Clinic. Finding new ways to celebrate a father's life, including visiting his grave on his birthday or baking his favorite foods for the holidays, might become pleasant traditions for your teenager. Exercising with a teenager or encouraging him to spend time with his friends or faith community might also provide healing after a father's suicide.

Additional Help

Sometimes, a teenager might need additional help as she processes her grief. A visit to a mental health professional such as a grief counselor could help her get back to her daily life, according to Boston Children's Hospital. A support group for those whose loved ones have committed suicide, and grief support and bereavement groups, might help a teenager whose father has killed himself, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In some cases, a teenager's grief can become so debilitating that a doctor will prescribe medications or psychotherapy, according to the Mayo Clinic. If a teenager shows any suicidal tendencies, such as expressing a desire to die, take it seriously and contact her doctor immediately.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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