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Worried about suicidal nephew and how to talk to my children

worried-auntie
Community Member

Hi, a family member told me last night that her foster son (15) who has experienced trauma as a young child is going through a very tough time including depression, self-harm, and substance abuse. They have been seeking help and have a great mental health and school team supporting them at this time, and our family is also here for any support they need. I have 2 kids (10, 13) and am worried about how to best talk to them about their cousin's struggle. I told them this morning that he is going through a difficult time (as they know his history) without going into any details yet. I am not sure how to best support them? They want to help their cousin feel better as best as they can by including him in some activities we spoke about. I found out yesterday that he has been cutting himself and that some of his cuts are visible on his hands. How do I best explain this to my kids? I am also worried about contagion. I would really appreciate any ideas, thoughts, and support resources. I am not sure if there is a helpline that I could call to talk about this? Any info would be great. Thank you! 

1 Reply 1

Bob_22
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi worried-auntie,

 

Welcome to the forums and thank you for posting your situation here. You've done a fantastic thing in reaching out and it sounds like you are very supportive of your family. Thank you.

 

Regarding your nephew, it sounds like your family member has a support team in place which is great. I thought it might be helpful if I post some resources here that they might use as well as yourself (or your own children) should you ever need them or would like to chat with somebody. All of these options are 24-7 and also available through webchat:  

Talking to your children about mental health and self harm can be difficult. At that age I found it is sometimes best to focus on the fact that their cousin is unwell and just needs some extra support at the moment as opposed to delving into depression, self harm and substance abuse. I don't have much expertise in working with <12y.o Kids Helpline is a great resource. They have some fact sheets on supporting a child going through mental health issues as well as a parentline which might be helpful in learning how to explain some of these issues to your children. Parentline offers confidential phone and WebChat counselling and support for parents and carers (based in QLD and NT but they have numbers for all states).

 

Hope this helps ðŸ’™ðŸ’™

 

Bob