The death of writer Chaim Walder and the serious accusations against him shook the Haredi and Modern Orthodox public. Samaria Regional Council on Tuesday sent out a letter to its constituent parents explaining how to relate the difficult news to their children.
“Most often, we tend to engage in a discourse that deals with mental resilience, rather than directly touching on the issue of suicide,” the letter said. “However, since Chaim Walder was until recently a well-known figure among the religious and Haredi children, it is possible that your child will raise questions regarding the issue of suicide.”
We wish to provide several points for an appropriate discourse, with messages built on resilience that must be woven into the conversation:
- Suicide is not a solution! Sometimes we experience significant difficulty, however, there are many ways in which difficulties can be addressed.
- It is important to emphasize to the children that if you are having difficulty, it is important to share with an adult you trust.
- Seeking help is evidence of strength rather than weakness.
- Injury, risk, and suicide situations can be avoided.
- Emphasize that we, the parents are always here by your side and we want to hear about everything.
- Stress responsibility to others – if you see that your friend is having a hard time, help him contact someone or share with us.
Should the issue of sexual abuse come up, please stress the following messages:
- No one has the right to touch you if you do not like it.
- Touching your private places is an improper act even if it pleases you.
- If you feel uncomfortable near someone talk about it with an adult, do not be ashamed.
- In any case of contact or discourse that you feel is inappropriate, it is important to come and tell us.
- It’s important to emphasize to the children the division between a good secret and a bad secret.
The letter concludes: “Remember – an inclusive and safe response will help children process content in a beneficial way, even when it comes to difficult content. If you feel that your child is upset and you don’t have the right tools to help them, you are welcome to contact the educational teams and they will contact you for help and assistance as needed.”