7 Children, Teens and Suicide Loss Preschooler (3–5 Years Old) Infants and toddlers experience loss and grieve when their caregiver is no longer physically present, though they may not have the words to describe certain emotions. Most will not have the ability to understand what death is or that it is forever. They will ask lots of questions, e.g., “I know you said mommy is dead, but when is she coming home?” Answer their questions as directly and consistently as possible. I have very sad news: your daddy died last night. “Died” means that his body stopped working. His heart is not beating, and he’s not breathing. He doesn’t need to eat or sleep, and he can’t play with you anymore. We aren’t going to see him again. Early Elementary Schooler (6–8 Years Old) Many children at this age understand death is permanent, and the person who died is not coming back. They may worry that they somehow caused the death. I have something I need to tell you that is really hard. Mommy was found dead this morning when you were away at school. Mommy’s brain was not working right. She died because she took more pills than you’re supposed to take, and her body stopped working. Later Elementary Schooler (9–12 Years Old) At this age, most children understand death is permanent. They may also have an interest in how the body works, and have questions about what specifically caused the death. I know this is going to be really hard to hear. Your brother died today. The police are pretty sure it was suicide, meaning he killed himself. The Coast Guard found his body and performed CPR, but by the time they tried to help him, he had already drowned. Note: For general information and guidance on how to talk to others about what happened, visit afsp.org/TalkingAboutWhatHappened.