A Kids Book About Suicide
Written by Angela N. Frazier
72 pages • Published 2020 (A Kids Book About, Inc.)
Recommended Age Range: 2nd grade through 6th grade.
Publisher's Summary: We tend to avoid talking about the things that make us uncomfortable, suicide is one of those topics. A lot of us feel it’s a conversation that’s too much for kids to handle but talking to kids about suicide is a foundational conversation that will equip them for the rest of their lives. This book will help give kids a foundation to begin to understand suicide and start an open conversation with the people in their lives about life and death.
Dr. Annie's Takeaways
Recommended for: Children who have lost a loved one to suicide and are ready to talk about it. Best for kids who are verbally-oriented and craving some real talk about what they and their family have gone through. This book is the most applicable in this category to children who have lost someone they care about other than a caregiver (e.g., extended family members, teachers, etc.) to suicide.
Would a child like it? This is not the kind of book that a child enjoys (there is no way to make this topic enjoyable, nor do I think there should be), but I do think that children will feel respected and reassured by this book.
Evidence-Based Practices: Psychoeducation
Tone: Intense, emotional, reassuring
Story Quality: This book shares the story of the author’s experience of their mom dying by suicide when they were a young adult. It uses clear, developmentally appropriate language to provide information about suicide in a manner that feels respectful and sincere. There’s an earnestness to this book that feels like the good kind of real talk in the wake of tragedy.
Illustrations: There aren’t any illustrations. The book uses changes in font style, size, color, and formatting to contribute to the meaning of the text.
Representation: The author shares the story of their mother dying by suicide. There are very few identity indicators provided about the author or their mother other than that the author has plans to go to college and get married. There is a page that encourages a child to reach out to a trusted adult if they are having thoughts of suicide, and the list includes teachers, family, coaches, doctors, and “clergy: your pastor, priest, preacher, rabbi, imam.”
Psychological Practices: This book starts by consenting the child into a book about suicide (“If you do feel like you’re ready, then turn to the next page”), which I love and sets the tone of respect and trust that a child can and will elect to join difficult conversations when they’re ready. It defines suicide and reassures children that a loved one’s suicide is not their fault and that their feelings are normal and valid. It normalizes the idea that their grief will likely ebb and flow over the years but that there will be happy days again. Towards the end of the book, it encourages children to tell a trusted adult if they are having thoughts of suicide and provides the suicide hotline number. A major theme throughout the book is that the child is not alone.
Concerns: The author lost their mother to suicide when they were a young adult, which is a different experience from losing someone while one is a child. A lot of the author’s experience is still relevant to a child going through a loved one’s suicide, and of course every individual’s experience is different no matter what, but some children may have a reaction to this difference in their experiences.
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