Critical Incidents

Parent & Guardian Information & Useful Contact Page

Compiled from the Department of Education and Skills NEPS Guidelines for Schools

FAQ - Parents

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (PARENTS)

The following is a summary of questions frequently asked by parents after a critical incident.

Q. This incident has upset my daughter/son. As there are many rumours circulating, I would like to know what really happened. How can I find that information?

A. The school will inform students and parents of the core details of the incident insofar as they are known. It sometimes takes some time for the true facts to emerge. In the meantime, it is important to stick to the facts as known. Discourage rumour or gossip as it is often incorrect and can be distressing for the families and friends of those involved. Information on social media is not reliable and always needs to be checked.

Q. Will help be available to the students in the school?

A. This will depend on the particular situation. The school will usually put a plan in place for supporting students. This support may include classroom discussion, small group discussion or individual support for students who need it. If there is particular concern about your son or daughter, you will be informed.

Q. How can I help my child?

A. You are the natural support for your child. He/she may want to discuss their feelings and thoughts with you. You can help by listening carefully. You should tell them it is ok to feel the way they do, that people react in many different ways and that they should talk rather than bottle things up. Advise on and monitor safe use of social media.

Q. How long will the grief last?

A. There is no quick answer to this. It varies from individual to individual and according to circumstances. It will also be affected by the closeness of the child to the event or to person who died. Memories of other bereavements may also be brought up by the incident. Be patient and understanding. It can take time.

Q. Since the incident occurred my child has difficulty in sleeping, complains of headaches etc. Can I be sure these are related to the incident?

A. Grief can affect one physically as well as emotionally and these and other symptoms may be part of a grief reaction. If they persist, consult a doctor for a check-up.

Q. If my child remains very upset what should I do?

A. If your child remains distressed after a period of six weeks or so, he/she may need additional support, but there is no fixed rule about the length of the grieving process. If you are very concerned at any point, it is best to seek more help through your GP/HSE Services.

Q. In what ways are adolescents different from other children?

A. During adolescence there are a lot of changes going on for young people and some may feel confused about themselves and the world around them. Grief tends to heighten these feelings and increase the confusion. At this time, too, the individual may look more to friends than to family for support and comfort. Don’t feel rejected by this. Just be available to listen when they need to talk and make sure they know you are there for them when they need you.

Useful Websites/Contacts

Loss and Grief

Find podcasts, links and more, available at any time.

Spunout.ie

An Irish website covering all aspects of health, lifestyle, culture and issues for young people. It’s an online youth information centre, a magazine, a health clinic, a contact directory, a youth media forum a take action initiative, a community building place and lots more. www.spunout.ie

Youth.ie

A site that focuses on issues relating to youth in Ireland today.

Reachout.com.

A site that helps young people through tough times.

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Useful Websites/Contacts

Mental Health Ireland

Mental Health Ireland aims to promote positive mental health and to actively support persons with a mental illness, their families and carers by identifying their needs and advocating their rights.

https://turn2me.org/youth instead of reachout.com

www.yourmentalhealth.ie – one stop shop for exploring mental health topics and services in Ireland. Free phone information line now available

Your Mental Health Information Line - 1800 111 888

www.childhoodbereavement.ie

www.connectingforlifemidwest.ie for most up to date 6 page resource that our office provides – it’s at the bottom of the page.

Coping with the aftermath of a Critical Incident

Normal feelings and thoughts at this time

Coping with a Critical Incident can be difficult and stressful. It can affect the way we feel, think and behave. The following information will help parents/guardians and students understand some of the feelings and reactions they may experience within hours, days or weeks after an event. There are also some suggestions on what may help them during this time.

Shock

Shock at what has happened. Things may feel unreal. Shock sometimes causes people to deny what has happened. This does not mean you do not care. You may feel like withdrawing, crying or becoming hysterical.

Fear

Fear about the unpredictability of everything especially life, of a similar incident happening again, of breaking down or losing control, of being alone.

Guilt

Feeling responsible in some way for what has happened even though you are being told you could not be, for not being able to make things better or not being able to help others, for being alive or better off than others.

Shame

Shame for not reacting as you thought you thought you should, for needing support from others.

Anger

Anger at someone or something, wanting to blame, wanting to blame for the injustice of the event.

Confusion

Confusion about the event, about how you should react, about having mixed feelings about everything.

Pain

Pain at the loss of the person, of associating this with other incidents, bereavements or losses that you may have experienced before.

Left out by People

People not acknowledging your involvement in the incident or your relationship with by people the person who is injured or deceased.

None of the Above

It may be because the student is not known to you.

Physical and behavioural reactions

It is quite normal to experience tiredness, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches, loss behavioural or increase of appetite, bowel/bladder problems, loss of concentration, irritability. Sometimes people feel generally unwell.

Remember!

• You need to look after yourself

• You are normal and are having normal reactions to an abnormal event

• There are people you can talk to

• You may not experience any of the above feelings

There is little you can do to avoid these uncomfortable feelings and thoughts but there are things you can do to help you cope.

What you can do to look after yourself

Talk

Try to talk about what happened and how you feel. Do not bottle things up. Sharing your experience with others who have had similar experiences may help. Let someone know if you are not coping well. If it is difficult to talk, keep a journal of how you are feeling or draw your experiences or emotions. You need to process the incident and allow it into your mind over time. With time you may need to talk or write about it. You may find that you dream about it over and over again. All this eventually helps you to accept what has happened.

Funeral

Going to the funeral or service may be appropriate.

Physical

Try to eat a regular meal three times a day.

Health

Make sure you take some exercise and also find ways to relax and rest.

Be careful not to use drink or other drugs to help you cope - they may numb the pain temporarily but can lead to other problems.

Seek help if you still feel any of the following four to six weeks after the event

• You cannot cope with or feel overwhelmed by your feelings.

• You (continue to) have nightmares.

• You experience sleeplessness.

• Intrusive thoughts about the event persist

• You begin to have problems in school

• You have been using excessive drinking, smoking or other drugs to help you cope since the event

Where can I get help?

If you are a student, always talk to your parents/guardians and/or see your School Counsellor.

If you are a concerned parent/guardian, visit your G.P. with your son/daughter and external counselling is available through your G.P

If you are a staff member, seek support from your GP and the LCETB employee assistance programme.

What you can do to look after yourself

Talk

Try to talk about what happened and how you feel. Do not bottle things up. Sharing your experience with others who have had similar experiences may help. Let someone know if you are not coping well. If it is difficult to talk, keep a journal of how you are feeling or draw your experiences or emotions. You need to process the incident and allow it into your mind over time. With time you may need to talk or write about it. You may find that you dream about it over and over again. All this eventually helps you to accept what has happened.

Funeral

Going to the funeral or service may be appropriate.

Physical

Try to eat a regular meal three times a day.

Health

Make sure you take some exercise and also find ways to relax and rest.

Be careful not to use drink or other drugs to help you cope - they may numb the pain temporarily but can lead to other problems.

Seek help if you still feel any of the following four to six weeks after the event

• You cannot cope with or feel overwhelmed by your feelings.

• You (continue to) have nightmares.

• You experience sleeplessness.

• Intrusive thoughts about the event persist

• You begin to have problems in school

• You have been using excessive drinking, smoking or other drugs to help you cope since the event

Where can I get help?

If you are a student, always talk to your parents/guardians and/or see your School Counsellor.

If you are a concerned parent/guardian, visit your G.P. with your son/daughter and external counselling is available through your G.P

If you are a staff member, seek support from your GP and the LCETB employee assistance programme.