My 13-year-old attempted suicide. How do I handle the aftermath of this?

- User Submitted

I am so sorry. From one parent to another, the excruciating pain that you are walking through in the wake of a child's suicide attempt. I'm really glad to hear that your daughter has connected with effective therapeutic support. And, can I just give you permission to also connect with your own support. Because as parents this is a tremendous trauma walking through the aftermath of a child suicide attempt.

In terms of knowing how to be with her and what to talk about, I have a fairly simple tool to offer you and it's called speaking for our parts. So, you may notice that there are many different parts of you that have different feelings and thoughts about this topic. The most effective way to communicate with your child is to speak for those parts. And here's what that might sound like:

"Sweetheart, I love you so much and I want to be here with you in any way possible. I'm not really sure what that is. One part of me wants to be with you 24 hours a day 7 days a week to make sure that you're safe and that you know that I'm here and I love you. Another part of me is really afraid of being too much, or smothering you, or frustrating you and that part of me wants me to back away. One part of me wants to ask you "how are you feeling and how are you doing?" And, another part of me is afraid that I won't have any answers or solutions and that part of me wants to not ask anything. Would you be willing to tell me what would feel best to you right now, for how I'm with you?

So, noticing how authentically that allows us to relate to our child and it allows us to bring our multi-dimensional experience to the conversation and then invite the child's feedback for what would feel best to them, and that may change and that's okay.

My heart is with you as you navigate this really tough journey.

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Dr. Kevin Skinner