Anyone that has suffered the loss of a family member or a very close friend to suicide is considered a survivor of suicide.
Those who have a loved one who has committed suicide all react to shock and grief in their own way but there are some common patterns. In some situations, the family may have expected the outcome. In others, they are hurt and angry. Anyone that has suffered through the tragedy of the suicide of a loved one, has asked themselves the same questions over and over again. You may keep wondering what you should have done or said that might have made a difference in your loved one’s life. This guilt is normal and is a part of the grieving process.
If you are not directly impacted but know someone who is, these are some of the things you might observe:
- Shock and disbelief that such a thing could happen to them – or to the person that committed suicide
- Guilt for failing to see this as a possibility…”If only I had…” or “what if we did… this wouldn’t have happened.”
- Anger directed at the person who committed suicide and to anyone else thought to be responsible
- Denial that the death was a suicide
- Confusion about why such a thing happened
- Desperate Search for answers – note that this mood may also be present, in a fluctuating manner, with someone who is also experiencing denial. Moving between a search for answers and denial is likely to occur in the earlier phases of a grief reaction
- Communication patterns within families may become strained, especially if one member of the family holds another responsible for not preventing the suicide
- Depression or extreme sadness which is a common reaction to any loss
- Social withdrawal from others
- Embarrassment that someone in the family committed suicide. This is a result of the stigma that is still associated with suicidal behaviors.
Things you can do:
- Attend a support group
- Learn how to deal with the grief you feel and go through the bereavement process. An excellent online booklet is here: How Can I Live with My Loss?
- Pray, pour your heart out to God. Let Him know how you feel
- Get counseling and talk with your pastor or minister. They are trained on how to help you.
- Understand that NO stigma should be attached to suicide. Suicidal people are NOT shameful, sinful, weak, selfish or manipulative.
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