As Suicide Rates Rise, Bereavement Camps Bring Healing to Kids Left Behind
September 29, 2023
Bereavement camps are helping kids heal from suicide loss. A network of camps across the U.S. offers supportive spaces for children and families to grieve their losses. As suicide rates have risen, suicide-specific bereavement camps are seeing increased demand. For example, at Comfort Zone Camp’s three-day suicide loss camp in New Jersey, attendance increased by about 50% from 2022 to 2023. At these short-stay sleepaway camps, kids can share their feelings with other loss survivors in an understanding, non-judgmental environment. They also have the chance to connect with each other through activities like boating, crafts, and archery. Bereavement camps may be more comfortable for some kids than traditional therapy settings and they tend to be free, making them more accessible than most mental health care. The camps serve a dual purpose, said Kaitlin Daeges, volunteer executive director at the Livin Foundation, which runs a suicide-bereavement camp in Minnesota. “Camp is both reactive and preventive at the same time,” Daeges said. “We’re trying to support these families and the people left behind . . . so they don’t get to the same place.”
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