Therapy for Teenagers Bereaved by Suicide

If you’ve read my blog you’ll know that teengirl lost a friend to suicide a few months ago.
Her friend was just 14 when she took her own life and teengirl just 13.
In the first few months just after teengirl did really well emotionally. She used her love of art and words to deal with her pain.
As she described it – she painted her hurt onto canvas and wrote her sadness into her computer’s memory.
But just recently (so about 4 months after she lost her friend) she’s started to struggle to cope with the almighty horror of not just losing a friend but losing a friend at the friend’s own hand, at her friend’s choice.
My baby girl, who is one of the sweetest, most empathetic girls you’ll ever meet, is full of anger.
She understands that her anger is irrational, she even understands where it’s coming from but what she doesn’t know is how to deal with it, to channel it. She doesn’t have the tools to deal with her anger effectively. And I don’t have the tools to teach her the tools she needs.
She’s also very, very sad.
This only came to light in an argument we had one afternoon because I felt she was acting so very different to the girl I knew and I told her so.
And eventually she admitted she was faking it because she figured if she faked it long enough she’d finally make herself happy again.
Then she went on to tell me how a girl at school was claiming to be self harming when she wasn’t really, she was just pretending for attention. (Teengirl’s friend who killed herself self harmed for years as a way to cope with the pain of her homelife and the bullying she experienced a school.).
And this made teengirl so angry she wanted to punch this girl repeatedly (don’t worry she didn’t) and scream at her telling her she had no clue about real inner pain and how dare she take something so serious and make a mockery of it for attention.
Fortunately again, teengirl, didn’t.
Instead she locked that anger away inside her and brought it home to me.
She says drawing and writing isn’t enough anymore, it’s not taking away her pain.
She sees a school counsellor once a week but sadly teengirl doesn’t like her very much and she hates the way she says “hmmm, mmmm” when she says something and asks her how things make her feel. Teengirl feels patronised by the counsellor and not properly listened to.
So, we established that she needs some more help. And we agreed that I’d find out what was the best route and we’d make sure she got well again.
After much research I discovered she needs not just counselling but specialist therapy from a professional who specialises in bereavement by suicide for teenagers.
Apparently bereavement by suicide is very different to suffering a bereavement. It comes with many different emotions such as anger and questions and guilt that need to be carefully treated.
And some cognitive behavioural therapy would be good too.
But I’m struggling to find someone who can provide her with what she needs in our area. There’s plenty of therapists offering bereavement counselling, and a couple who specialise in bereavement by suicide but none who do this with teenagers. And then I start asking about CBT and I’m onto a chocolate watch.
I’m going to get her some books to help in the interim while I keep searching. But it looks like I may just have to get her some suicide bereavement help from someone who normally deals with adults and then some CBT from someone else.
In today’s society, where we understand how important the mental health of our teenagers is, I’m really amazed at how difficult it is to find a professional to help teengirl.

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About mumtoteens

mum to two teens and a toddler - not a easy mix tbh. The oldest is 18, the middlest is 13 and the baby is 2 and we live a life full of love and chaos. View all posts by mumtoteens

6 responses to “Therapy for Teenagers Bereaved by Suicide

  • Franklin Cook

    Here is a free tool that links to 100s of resources for people bereaved by suicide (and which has a special section on bereaved children): Suicide Grief Support Quick Reference at http://sg.sg/griefreference

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  • worriedmum

    Hi,
    I came across your blog this afternoon whilst trying to find bereavement counselling for my 15 year old daughter.
    Her cousin took his own life almost a year ago, and my daughter (along with the rest of the family) is struggling to come to terms with this.
    I contacted Winston’s Wish charity today, who seem a fantastic charity but do not provide support for extended family and friends (ie only sons/daughters, brothers & sisters).
    I’ve previously been in touch with Survivors of Bereavement through Suicide, and they were also unable to help. In fact I don’t know where to turn next!
    It’s such a shame that there is no support for teenagers. As adults my sister, her other children and myself have all been offered therapy and support but there appears to be nothing available for my daughter.
    I just wondered if you’ve now found an organisation you would recommend? Like you, I’m amazed how difficult it is to find support.

    I really hope your daughter is ok.

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    • mumtoteens

      Hi worriedmum
      I am so sorry for your loss.
      And your poor daughter, how terrible, that the one person who may actually need the help the most (given the hormones and thought processes of teenagers!) can’t get it.
      And I am so sorry to have to tell you that I still have not found anywhere I can get help for teengirl. My last port of call was our local Cruse who provide bereavement counselling free. Unfortunately they don’t have the volunteers or expertise (in our area) to offer counselling for her.
      The only way it seems now for us is to pay for it privately. Unfortunately with specialist counsellors we’re looking at upwards of £50 per week and I’m not in a position to be able to afford that right now.
      If, however, you are in a position to get your daughter some private help you can find specialist counsellors in your area at the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.
      On a brighter note I have invested in some books for teengirl and she’s slowly working her way through them and says they’re helping a little bit.
      These are the books that were recommended by SOBs and are age appropriate for teenagers:
      “The Grieving Teen: A Guide for Teenagers and Their Friends” by Helen Fitzgerald.
      “Coping with Suicide (Overcoming Common Problems)” by Maggie Helen.
      “Silent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide” by Christopher Lukas and Henry M Seiden.
      I got all three of them from Amazon but the first one had to be shipped from America.
      It is so very, very wrong that there’s no help for teenagers bereaved by suicide.
      Perhaps what I need to do now is find out what I can do to change that.
      Please let me know how you and your daughter get on. And if you find suitable therapy for her please let me know.
      Good luck and take care of you as well as your daughter.
      Mumtoteens xx

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      • worriedmum

        Hi mumtoteens,

        Thank you for your reply, kind words, and book recommendations.

        Like you, I’m not in a position to pay privately for counselling. My next port of call will be our gp. He has been fantastic with me, and I’m hoping he can help my daughter. We have also tried Cruse but as you say they do not have the knowledge or expertise to deal with such bereavement.

        I’ve been thinking a lot over the weekend how very wrong it is that this service isn’t available to teens bereaved by suicide who are not siblings or sons/daughters and wondering what can be done to change this. If you have any thoughts, please do let me know.

        Best wishes to you and your daughter

        xx

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      • mumtoteens

        Hi worriedmum
        I’ve been thinking a lot about it over the past few days too. And firstly I’m going to go onto mumsnet and ask if anybody knows of any other way to get help. Cos if there’s a way someone on Mumsnet will know it.
        Then…I’m not sure what I’m going to do!
        GP’s can be really amazing in situations like this, unfortunately there is often a long waiting time for counselling, but in your daughter’s situation they might be able to speed it up. Teenboy was diagnosed with PTSD last year after a really bad car accident. Our GP was really great with him and gave him antidepressants (teenboy was 18 at the time) but was honest with me and told me it could take up to 6 months to get him some counselling!
        So I paid for some private counselling for him but cos it didn’t need to be specialist it was only £30 a session and he could have it twice a month rather than once a week. I’ve spoken to his counsellor and sadly she doesn’t do bereavement by suicide counselling.
        I’ve never done anything like this before so I’m not sure how to go about it but I guess I can find out – if I can’t get any further forward with advice from other parents on Mumsnet then I could start a campaign on the blog.
        I will get back to you when I have more of a plan. Good luck with your GP.

        Like

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