When a parent commits suicide, he or she leaves their children a legacy of questions that can never fully be answered, and which can take the better part of a lifetime to address. For Nancy Rappaport, M.D., her own path toward acceptance of her mother's suicide included writing a book, "In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide" (2009). In her Grand Rounds presentation at the NYU Child Study Center, on Feb. 3, 2012, Dr. Rappaport talked about the complex tangle of emotions that children are often faced with when a parent takes his or her own life.
Depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, or other mental health problems may have complicated a child's relationship with the parent while he or she was still alive, which can affect the grieving process. Suicide is still stigmatized, often making it difficult for survivors to talk about, an important part of the healing process. In her talk, Dr. Rappaport also offers advice for anyone providing support or care to a child following a parent's suicide, and for helping to prevent suicide in young people, drawing on her role as a child psychiatrist.
You can see a video of Dr. Rappaport's full Grand Rounds presentation above. Below are excerpts from an interview conducted with her at the CSC following her talk. You can see more of the interview with Dr. Rappaport, and other videos from the NYU Child Study Center's expert clinicians and Grand Rounds speakers, at the NYU CSC YouTube channel.
Dr. Rappaport is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, at Cambridge Health Alliance; and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, at Harvard Medical School.