One local counselor says beginning a dialogue with your child, regardless of their age, can be an important key in making sure a tragic event like the one that occurred Thursday doesn’t get worse.

Debra Onsager suggests that a parent begin a conversation with their child, acknowledging that they heard about the bad thing that occurred near their school. If the child isn’t aware of the death, Onsager said the topic can be dropped. However, if it’s apparent that another student had heard about it or talked with friends, then it’s an opportunity to help them process the event in as positive a manner as possible.

In particular, Onsager, a licensed professional counselor who specializes in trauma, said kids need to hear that while bad things happen, life will go on. And that the person who took their life was apparently very sad and lonely because the person, identified by police as a 47-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills man, may not have had someone to talk to about his feelings.

With young children, Onsager said parents can suggest that they draw a picture to describe their feelings.

“The most important thing is that kids are able to talk about what they’ve seen and heard,” Onsager said. “You don’t want to scare your child, but you definitely want to have a discussion.”

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