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Guiding the Grief: Suicide Bereavement Support Training for Early Years Professionals

The loss of a loved one is a deeply painful and challenging experience, and when that loss is due to suicide, the emotional toll can be even more overwhelming. In the context of early childhood education, where children are forming their understanding of the world, suicide bereavement can have a profound impact. Early years professionals play a crucial role in guiding children through this difficult time and helping them process their grief. This article delves into the importance of suicide bereavement support training for early years professionals.

The Unique Challenge of Suicide Bereavement in Early Childhood Education

Suicide bereavement is very complex; In early years settings, specifically, where children are incredibly perceptive and impressionable, it can be particularly challenging to address. Young children may struggle to grasp the concept of death and may be deeply affected by the sudden loss of a loved one, especially when it's due to suicide.

Mother depressed on couch

Why Suicide Bereavement Support Training Matters

  1. Understanding the Unique Dynamics: Suicide bereavement is different from other forms of loss, and early years professionals need specific training to understand the nuances of this type of grief. It involves a wide range of emotions, including shock, guilt, anger, and confusion.

  2. Child-Centred Approach: Early years professionals are trained to focus on the well-being and development of children. Suicide bereavement support training equips them with the skills to tailor their approach to the unique needs of children who have experienced this kind of loss.

  3. Communicating with Sensitivity: Training helps professionals communicate with children and families compassionately affected by suicide. It's vital to provide age-appropriate information and support to help children cope.

  4. Recognizing Warning Signs: Early years professionals need to be vigilant in identifying signs of distress or behavioural changes in children who have experienced suicide bereavement. Training can help them recognize these signs and take appropriate action.

  5. Working Collaboratively: Suicide bereavement often requires the involvement of multiple professionals, including counsellors, therapists, and social workers. Training equips early years professionals to collaborate effectively with these specialists to provide comprehensive support.

Creating Safe Spaces for Grieving Children

Suicide bereavement support training empowers early years professionals to create safe and nurturing environments for grieving children. It helps them build relationships based on trust and empathy, allowing children to express their feelings and fears.

What Parents Should Do if They Feel Mentally Unwell or Suicidal?

Parenthood is a rewarding journey filled with love and joy, but it can also be incredibly challenging. Parents often put their children's well-being first, but it's essential to remember that their own mental health is just as important. If you're a parent and find yourself struggling with your mental health, including feelings of suicidality, it's crucial to seek help and support.

  • Talk to Someone You Trust. Reaching out to someone you trust, such as a close friend or family member, can be a crucial first step. Sharing your feelings with a supportive person can provide emotional relief and offer a different perspective on your situation.

  • Contact a Mental Health Professional. In England, there are numerous mental health services and professionals available to provide support. Contact your general practitioner (GP) to discuss your feelings and seek a referral to a mental health specialist or counsellor. The National Health Service (NHS) offers various mental health services and helplines for immediate assistance.

  • Reach Out to Support Organizations. Several support organizations, such as Samaritans, Mind, and PANDAS Foundation, are dedicated to assisting individuals with mental health challenges, including parents. These organizations offer resources, helplines, and support groups tailored to your specific needs.

  • Crisis Helplines. If you find yourself in a crisis and need immediate assistance, don't hesitate to call helplines like Samaritans (116 123) or the NHS 111 helpline. They are available 24/7 to provide guidance and support.

  • Self-Care and Coping Strategies. While seeking professional help is essential, self-care and coping strategies can also be beneficial. This includes activities like exercise, meditation, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting enough rest. These practices can help manage and alleviate the symptoms of mental distress.

  • Involve Your Support System. Your support system, which may include your partner, family, or close friends, can be a vital part of your recovery. Let them know what you're going through and involve them in your treatment plan if you feel comfortable doing so. Their understanding and assistance can make a significant difference.

  • Reach Out to your child's school. It's vital you inform your child's teachers, so we can help you as much as we can. Remember that your mental health matters, and as a parent, taking care of yourself enables you to better care for your children too! You are not alone.

Suicide bereavement is a challenging and sensitive issue, and early years professionals play a vital role in helping children navigate their grief. By providing these professionals with specialized training in suicide bereavement support, we can ensure that grieving children receive the care, understanding, and guidance they need during this profoundly difficult time. This support not only helps children heal but also equips them with valuable coping skills they can carry throughout their lives.


For immediate resources, organisations which provide support regarding children and families impacted by suicide, or those experiencing distress and/or despair, please check out the following;

For an imminent risk of life, call 999

Child Bereavement UK: Helps children, young people, parents, and families rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies. Call 08000 288 840 or visit

Grief Encounter: Provides support for bereaved children, young people and families, including bereavement by suicide. Call 08088 020 111 or visit or email grieftalk@griegencounter.

Samaritans: Provides confidential support 24/7 to anyone experiencing despair, distress, or suicidal feelings. Call 116 123 or visit

If you'd prefer support via text, Shout: Provides confidential free support too via anonymous text support. Text 85258.

Papyrus: UK based resources which support those dealing with suicide, depression, or distress - particularly in young adults and teenagers. Call 08000 684 141 or visit

For even more support resources, please visit here:

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