talking about suicide with young people

autumn fallen leaves on gravestone
Photo by Maria Orlova on

In tutor time today, I happened to stumble upon the subject of Caroline Flack. We were talking about kindness and we were looking at the quote that she wrote on her Instagram just before she took her life – in a world where you can be anything, be kind.

For those of you who are not in the UK, Caroline was a famous TV presenter who got arrested for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend. The boyfriend didn’t want her charged, but between the court dates and losing her job, she was hounded on social media by trolls. She went on to commit suicide in February of last year.

I hadn’t planned to talk about this subject, but having started speaking, I couldn’t really reverse. I suddenly realised that I do not know these kids very well at all and if any of them had any trauma I could have done damage.

Luckily for me, they seemed interested in what happened to her and nobody seemed too upset. However, it did make me stop and think about how we approach subjects like this with young people. It’s so important that they understand how powerful their words are – even words that they have just typed.

My tutor group is made up of twelve and thirteen year olds, and I found that they really did seem too young to understand why someone would commit suicide. They are old enough to understand death, but the complexity of what happened to Caroline seemed a little too much for them to take on.

I remember when I was about seven a family friend committed suicide and my brain could not comprehend why it had happened. I was also morbidly fascinated and I remember asking lots of questions that were probably really inappropriate. I don’t know enough about child development to know if my lot really understand death – I mean, if I’m being honest, even I can’t quite grasp the fact that there will be an end to this adventure.

It does feel as though it’s important to speak to our young people about suicide, because it’s not a cry for help, and much of the time that’s all teenagers want to do. It’s a scary time for them as they become adults and crying out for a hand is to be expected, and healthy, and normal.

So all in all, I had another day of educating myself more than the kids as I thought really deeply about everything from mental health, trauma, respecting feelings and the power of my own words. One day the kids might actually learn more than I do!

Much Love

Rachel xx

stirring the pot

We dip in spoons and move them through

The hocus pocus potion we have made.

We formed the spell ourselves

So why indeed

Do we feel the need

To change the form, the molecules

That held our dreams

When we set out to meet the world?

It’s for scientific purposes, I promise

I’m still finding my feet,

A teen in a grown woman’s body.

I find myself watching reality TV

In an attempt to learn what to do.


Some people turn up their noses

But I actually need those things.

A road map to help me through

A world that I once drowned out.

I have found since I stopped drinking that I’ve begun to watch a tonne of reality shows. I find that I’m absolutely fascinated by them and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I almost felt a bit embarrassed about the fact that I adored Love Island.

However, I think I now know what it is that keeps me hooked. I think that it’s because I’ve been drinking heavily for my entire adult life and now that I’m only three years out of it, I’m still trying to learn all of the things that everyone else learnt during their twenties.

Romantic relationships are completely beyond me because I’m emotionally about fifteen years old. So Love Island is a treasure trove of ‘information’ for me. I get to see all these people fall in love and break up all in fast forward.

You may all be laughing at me and being all judgey, but I promise, I’m only watching it for scientific purposes.

Much Love

Rachel xx