Students' Mental Health Needs: Problems and Responses

By Nicky Stanley; Jill Manthorpe | Go to book overview
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Chapter 4
When Our Children Kill Themselves
Parental Perspectives Following Suicide

Margaret Harvey

All of the contributors to this chapter have lost a son or daughter to suicide. Each of our stories is unique, as are our attempts to understand what led up to our child's death. Some of us feel that we can piece together a sequence of events, at least with hindsight, while for others it remains a shocking mystery. Probably we all accept that we can never know the full, true story. As parents, we recognise that the departure of a son or daughter to college or university marks a significant shift in the dynamics of our family. Our children are adults; they lead independent lives, and the family home becomes a place to visit, rather than to live. Some of us find it easier than others to adapt to this new 'equal adult' relationship than others; all of us still see ourselves as parents and our concern and wish to support our children continues, albeit in a different form. When our children take their own lives, we scour the past, unpicking their childhood in an attempt to understand, and we ask ourselves the question: 'how did it happen, when did it all begin?'


Our children's stories

Many of our children were high achievers who set themselves high standards and met with conspicuous success:

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