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     When a person dies by suicide, it sends a devastating shock wave through the world around them. Whether they were your personal friend or a celebrity that you admired, being connected with a person who dies by suicide can make you feel overwhelmed with confusion and despair. The relationships and role models we build throughout life have a tremendous impact on our mental health, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.   While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help. If someone you know or admired died by suicide, here are a few things you should know:    It’s ok to be angry    If the person had been killed by a drunk driver, you’d know exactly who to be mad at. You’d be enraged with the person who made the choice to drive intoxicated. When a person dies by suicide, however, it’s a bit more confusing. They are both the victim and the person who caused their death. It’s normal to feel abandoned, angry, or resentful as you process what’s happened.    “Why” may never be clear – and that’s ok   Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, died by suicide in 2017. His family posted a video showing Chester smiling and playing games with his loved ones just hours before taking his life. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why a person became suicidal - a traumatic event, extreme stress, or mental illness are common instigators. But in cases like Chester’s, suicide was something that no one saw coming. The factors leading to suicide are often unclear, and acceptance can only happen when you realize you may never fully understand “why.”   Grief comes in waves   Some days you’ll feel at peace, accepting that no one could not have prevented what happened. Other days, you might be triggered by a sentimental memory of the deceased and feel overwhelmed with emotion. It’s normal for symptoms of grief to ebb and peak. When you are having an especially bad day, remember that your feelings will subside in time.   Self-care is not betrayal    When a person dies by suicide, guilt and depression can curb your motivation to take care of yourself. Simple acts like brushing your teeth, eating healthy, and exercising can feel burdensome. Reestablishing your routine will help bring back a sense of normalcy as you work through your grief. Allow yourself to experience both mundane and enjoyable activities, as routine and laughter are both important parts of the healing process.   Therapy isn’t sold in pint glasses    After experiencing the loss of someone by suicide, it can be tempting try to numb your void with alcohol. Be cautious about using substances to cope with your grief, as this does not help you work through your pain but only masks it until you sober up again. Alcohol exacerbates depression and anxiety, making you feel even worse once your buzz wears off. This can lead to you becoming dependent on alcohol to cope with your symptoms, worsening your depression and making recovery significantly more challenging.    Pain has a ripple effect   It’s common to have suicidal thoughts in the wake of a person’s death. Our brains want to make sense of things, and when something is insensible, our minds tend to replay the hurtful event repeatedly as we try to make sense of it. This confusion may cause you to fixate on death and despair, resulting in overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness. Know that the intensity of these feelings will fade in time. If your suicidal thoughts are unrelenting, seek help from a specialist right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can help direct you in getting help, either for yourself or for a loved one in need.    National Suicide Prevention Hotline:    1-800-273-8255     When in doubt, lean    You may feel like isolating yourself, staying in bed, and wallowing in depression for a while. As tough as it may be, push yourself to get out of the house and lean on the support of your friends and family. Isolating yourself may only worsen your depression. Stay connected to supportive people, and limit your time spent with people who tell you how you should think or feel.    Cultures may clash    Different cultures and religions have varying views on suicide, making it something that many people are unwilling to acknowledge or discuss. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide only worsens the problem, discouraging those in need from getting help.    You can change perceptions   As you process your grief, don’t forget that you have the power to make a difference by talking about suicide. Your voice can empower those in need to seek help and acknowledge that sufferers should be recognized and supported without shame. You can advocate through social media, online or in-person support groups, speaking engagements, or by educating your close friends and family. Start by learning how to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to help prevent future deaths by suicide. A great resource is the Center for Disease Control’s listing of risks and protective factors.     Hope lies ahead    When their loss is still new, it may feel like you’ll never be happy again. The people that we meet, love, or admire are a defining part of our lives, and their loss is excruciating. This pain reflects the intense bonds we are blessed to experience as human beings. While birthdays and other milestones may be especially tough from year to year, know that the intensity of your grief will lessen over time, and someday you will be able to embrace both the happy and sad memories. Believe that no matter how dire things may feel today, the future holds hope, peace, and acceptance.     Variations can help   While your loved ones might not have the words to say, a specialist in depression and grief will understand your needs and will listen, validate what you are experiencing and help you discover ways to cope with your loss.    Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations       
	 CLick here to find a specialists that's right for you 
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               The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our    specialists.     More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html  Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide http://www.sptsusa.org/  University of Texas Suicide Prevention Program https://cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html  The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900?pg=2   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Coping with the Shock of Suicide . Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/coping-with-the-shock-of-suicide

Coping With the Shock of Suicide

When a person dies by suicide, it sends a devastating shock wave through the world around them. Whether they were your personal friend or a celebrity that you admired, being connected with a person who dies by suicide can make you feel overwhelmed with confusion and despair. The relationships and role models we build throughout life have a tremendous impact on our mental health, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.

While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help.If someone you know or admired died by suicide, here are a few things you should know:

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      When a Friend Dies by Suicide   The death of a loved one is always extremely painful, but having a friend die by suicide is especially devastating. Friendships are an important part of the human experience and impact our happiness, well-being, and sense of belonging. While we don’t get to choose which family we’re born into, we do get to choose who we build friendships with, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.   Why didn’t they come to me?   When a person dies, the first people we tend to sympathize with are family members, but being a friend of someone who dies by suicide presents its own unique struggles. After all, you’re the one they’re supposed to vent to when their family drives them nuts. You’re the one that’s supposed to take them out to get their mind off their crazy ex. You feel a responsibility for their well-being, and it’s hard to accept that their psychological battle was out of your control.   While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help. If you’ve lost a friend to suicide, here are a few things you should know:    It’s ok to be angry   If your friend had been killed by a drunk driver, you’d know exactly who to be mad at. You’d be enraged with the person who made the choice to drive intoxicated. If your friend died by suicide, however, it’s a bit more confusing. They are both the victim and the person who caused their death. It’s normal to feel abandoned, angry, or resentful as you process what’s happened.   “Why” may never be clear – and that’s ok   Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, died by suicide in 2017. His family posted a video showing Chester smiling and playing games with his loved ones just hours before taking his life. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why a person became suicidal - a traumatic event, extreme stress, or mental illness are common instigators. But in cases like Chester’s, suicide was something that no one saw coming. The factors leading to suicide are often unclear, and acceptance can only happen when you realize you may never fully understand “why.”   Grief comes in waves   Some days you’ll feel at peace, accepting that you could not have prevented your friend’s death. Other days, you’ll see an ad for your favorite band coming to town and feel devastated that you can’t call your friend to go with you. Milestones that should be enjoyable, like finding the love of your life, buying a new house, or watching your kids graduate may all have a bitter tinge knowing that your friend isn’t there to share those experiences with you. It’s normal for symptoms of grief to ebb and peak. When you are having an especially bad day, remember that your feelings will subside in time.   Self-care is not betrayal    When your friend dies by suicide, guilt and depression can curb your motivation to take care of yourself. Simple acts like brushing your teeth, eating healthy, and exercising can feel burdensome. Reestablishing your routine will help bring back a sense of normalcy as you work through your grief. Allow yourself to experience both mundane and enjoyable activities, as routine and laughter are both important parts of the healing process.   Therapy isn’t sold in pint glasses    Friends play an important role in the formation of our identities, and after losing a friend it can be tempting to try to numb your void with alcohol. Be cautious about using substances to cope with your grief, as this does not help you work through your pain but only masks it until you sober up again. Alcohol exacerbates depression and anxiety, making you feel even worse once your buzz wears off. This can lead to you becoming dependent on alcohol to cope with your symptoms, worsening your depression and making recovery significantly more challenging.   Pain has a ripple effect   It’s common for loved ones to have suicidal thoughts in the wake of their friend’s death. Our brains want to make sense of things, and when something is insensible, our minds tend to replay the hurtful event repeatedly as we try to make sense of it. This confusion may cause you to fixate on death and despair, resulting in overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness. Know that the intensity of these feelings will fade in time. If your suicidal thoughts are unrelenting, seek help from a specialist right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can help direct you in getting help, either for yourself or for a loved one in need.  National Suicide Prevention Hotline:   1-800-273-8255     When in doubt, lean   You may feel like isolating yourself, staying in bed, and wallowing in depression for a while. As tough as it may be, push yourself to get out of the house and lean on the support of your friends and family. Isolating yourself may only worsen your depression. Stay connected to supportive people, and limit your time spent with people who tell you how you should think or feel.   Cultures may clash    Different cultures and religions have varying views on suicide, making it something that many people are unwilling to acknowledge or discuss. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide only worsens the problem, discouraging those in need from getting help. Depending on their beliefs, expect that your friend’s family members might have a hard time talking about what happened or speaking up for the needs of those battling mental illness.   You can change perceptions    As their friend, you have the power to make a difference by talking about suicide. Your voice can empower those in need to seek help and acknowledge that sufferers should be recognized and supported without shame. You can share your story through social media, online or in-person support groups, speaking engagements, or by educating your close friends and family. Start by learning how to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to help prevent future deaths by suicide. A great resource is the   Center for Disease Control’s listing of risks and protective factors.     You made their life better    Know that your relationship was just as important to your friend as it was to you; their choice to end their life was based on a warped perception of reality – a feeling that death was the only viable escape from their struggles - and was not a reflection of the value they placed on your friendship. You improved their quality of life despite their internal battle.   Hope lies ahead    When their loss is still new, it may feel like you’ll never be happy again. Close friends are a defining part of our lives, and their loss is excruciating. This pain reflects the intense bonds we are blessed to experience as human beings. While birthdays and other milestones may be especially tough from year to year, know that the intensity of your grief will lessen over time, and someday you will be able to embrace both the happy and sad memories. Believe that no matter how dire things may feel today, the future holds hope, peace, and acceptance.     Variations can help   While your friends might not have the words to say, a specialist in depression and grief will understand your needs and will listen, validate what you are experiencing and help you discover ways to cope with your loss.  Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations:      
	 Click here to find the specialist that’s right for you 
       Click here to subscribe to Psychologically Speaking      

 
   
     
      
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html  Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide http://www.sptsusa.org/  University of Texas Suicide Prevention Program https://cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html  The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900?pg=2   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). When a Friend Dies by Suicide.  Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/when-a-friend-dies-by-suicide

When a Friend Dies by Suicide

The death of a loved one is always extremely painful, but having a friend die by suicide is especially devastating. Friendships are an important part of the human experience and impact our happiness, well-being, and sense of belonging. While we don’t get to choose which family we’re born into, we do get to choose who we build friendships with, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Explaining the Unexplainable: How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids   In the wake of recent school shootings, many of us feel an overwhelming sense of fear and lack of control over such a senseless tragedy. Between social media, word of mouth, and news broadcasts, children are exposed to more and more similar headlines; it can be hard for parents to know how help their children process these tragedies without worsening their anxiety.  Our clinicians at Variations Psychology wanted to share a few insights to guide you in discussing school violence with your children:   Find out what they already know.    Between classmates, TV, and the internet, chances are your child may have already heard some details about the shooting. Ask them what they’ve heard before you start offering up information. Gently correct inaccuracies and let their questions guide what you will share.     Honesty is important.    If your child heard about the shooting from a classmate on the playground, it can be tempting to see if you can get away with telling them it was all made up and didn’t happen. This is not recommended, as silence on a subject suggests to your child that it is too awful to even speak of and can increase their fear of it. Model confidence and assurance in their safety as you speak to them; your kids are looking to you to see how scared they should be.   Keep it age appropriate.    For preschoolers and school aged children, use simple language and avoid gruesome details. Reassure them that they are safe. Give them extra love and attention to reinforce that you are there for them. Remind them of all of the people who are dedicated to their safety – you, their teacher, principal, etc. For adolescents, take time to listen to their feelings and thoughts about school shootings and campus safety. Remind them of what they can do to help (i.e. – reporting strangers on campus or reporting “red flag” behaviors of concerning students).   Stick to your routine    It feels natural to many parents to try to keep their children close after school shootings, but psychologists agree that the best way to model resilience and strength is by showing your child that tragedies will not stop you from living your life. Keep your child’s daily routine the same following tragic events; the consistency of school, homework, and other predictable activities will help retain some sense of normalcy among the chaos of what they’ve learned.   Censor what you can    While you can’t shield your kids from everything, try to be attentive to the amount of media coverage and adult conversations you expose your children to. If you want your older children to watch the news, record it beforehand so that you can review it to decide if it’s age appropriate.   Show a little extra patience    Your child may not blatantly express that they are struggling to process what happened, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t having difficulty coping. In the wake of horrific tragedies, it’s normal for your child to act irritably or have difficulty focusing or completing tasks. Give a little extra patience, comfort, and reassurance in the weeks that follow.   Always give hope    Any time you discuss something traumatic with your child, balance out the conversation with hopeful insights for the future. Share stories of those that survived, of people helping one another, and of the heroism and quick response of the police and first responders.     Find a specialist        
	 Click here to find the specialist that’s right for you 
      While tragedies such as the shooting in Parkland are disturbing to most people, some have a harder time coping than others. If you or your child are experiencing increased anxiety, depression, appetite or sleep changes, seek support from a professional right away. A specialist who understands how trauma affects adults and children and can help you or your child learn coping skills to overcome your fear and anxiety.  Additional Resources:  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network:   http://www.nctsn.org/    The National Education Association:   http://www.nea.org/home/72279.htm     Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
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               The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our    specialists.     More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice composed of specialists in a variety of psychology domains including Clinical Psychology, School and Educational Psychology, Child Development, Psychological Testing, Educational Testing, and Training.  Our specialists provide therapy to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families.  We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.  Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).      
  
       References:   Dym Bartlett, J. (2018). Resources to Help Children in the Wake of a School Shooting.  Child Trends . Retrieved online: https://www.childtrends.org/resources-help-children-wake-school-shooting  Long, C. (2018). School Shootings and Other Traumatic Events: How to Talk to Students.  The National Education Association . Retrieved online:  http://www.nea.org/home/72279.htm  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (2018). Parent Guidelines for Helping Students After the Recent School Shooting. Retrieved online: http://www.nctsn.org/   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Explaining the Unexplainable: How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids.       Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/explaining-the-unexplainable

Explaining the Unexplainable:
How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids

In the wake of recent school shootings, many of us feel an overwhelming sense of fear and lack of control over such a senseless tragedy. Between social media, word of mouth, and news broadcasts, children are exposed to more and more similar headlines; it can be hard for parents to know how help their children process these tragedies without worsening their anxiety.

Our clinicians at Variations Psychology wanted to share a few insights to guide you in discussing school violence with your children: