Losing a loved one to suicide is a traumatic event that changes the course and the essence of the survivor’s life. Many feel responsible for the death and wonder how they missed the signs or if they could have stopped it somehow.

According to the CDC, suicide is a leading cause of death in the US, responsible for 45,979 deaths in 2020. Many people attempt suicide and don’t succeed but are left with emotional and often physical scars that remain for a lifetime. Some are unsuccessful, but the attempt was responsible for physical, emotional, and mental issues that will never disappear.

This article will help survivors of suicide (both the family members who lost someone and those who attempted to end their own life) and share helpful resources.

What about the survivors?

Often when we think about suicide, we question why the victim opted to stop living or what the underlying conditions were; however, very seldom do we stop to think about its effects on the surviving members. Sadly, many survivors of suicide loss are unaware that many resources are available to help them deal with their grief and to help them get the support they need to move forward.

According to Alliance Of Hope, every 40 seconds, we lose a life by suicide, leaving on average 6-8 loved ones behind to pick up the pieces and deal with the devastating grief. This grief is unlike normal grief due to a loss because this grief has additional layers to it, and while you may never fully get through it. Finding coping mechanisms, support and healing is imperative to get through each day. This grief often leads to deep depression, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you are feeling these symptoms, it is important to know that resources and help are available.

Coping with grief and finding ways to heal

Grief is a complicated process and quite different for everyone. There are no right or wrong ways to experience grief. You may be overtaken by emotions unknown to you or reactions to things that catch you or others off guard. The grief associated with suicide loss often produces guilt and profound sorrow. It is important to allow yourself the grace to feel your emotions and have a safe space to express them.

Finding a support system is crucial. Perhaps a mental health specialist who can help you navigate your emotions and cope with your grief, maybe journalling or joining a support group for suicide survivors. Some survivors plan a memorial to help them honor the life they have lost. In any case, taking care of yourself and finding support is necessary. Give yourself grace, be patient, expect to have highs and lows, try to focus on the great times you had with your loved one, and seek support from family, friends, therapists, or even a psychiatrist if your symptoms take a turn for the worst. The emotional pain becomes too much to bear.

Choosing to advocate

Another way to help someone deal with their loss is to use their story to encourage others. Perhaps you may join a suicide prevention organization for volunteer opportunities or do public speaking at schools or in areas where suicide is highly prevalent such as veteran organizations or law enforcement events, any form of advocacy is helpful.

This allows you to speak about your experience and talk about your loved one in a way that honors their life, and it allows you to give your life some purpose and use your tragedy to help someone else. Every life saved is worth the effort. Once you are coping with your healing and in a place where you are highly functioning and have gotten the support you’ve needed, you may want to become a support system to someone currently dealing with a loss. Maybe you would consider starting a support group.

All of these are wonderful ways to honor your loved one and make some sense of the future. Always be sure to start with taking care of yourself first. If you are not well, you will not be able to help others dealing with suicide loss.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, there are plenty of resources you can reach out to. Some can text, others can call, and some hospitals will provide help immediately.

Six Helpful Resources

There is help out there. Asking for help in a time of need is the greatest strength you can show. The following six resources are available if you have lost someone to suicide.

AFSP

You never understand what someone has gone through unless you have gone through it yourself. The volunteers at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention have all lost someone to suicide.

They help people who are thinking suicide is the only option, those who have lost someone to suicide, suicide survivors, and those who are worried about family members and friends.

The volunteers will counsel you through any suicide-related situation.

Link: afsp.org/ive-lost-someone

SPRC

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center is your resource of resources. If you have lost someone to suicide or attempted suicide yourself and don’t know where to turn, the Resource Center will help guide you to the help you need.

There is no one solution for everyone, and that is reflected here. If you do not know what help you need, you can use this website to find a resource that is personal to you.

You can search for resources or programs and find the help you need to continue your life.

Link: sprc.org/livedexperience/tool/resources-survivors-suicide-loss

Florida Department Of Children & Families

The Florida Department of Children and Families is an organization that is set up to help everyone, but they focus on families within Florida. Suicide is a global issue, but talking with someone who knows a little more about what you are going through and where you are coming from is a massive benefit.

They have local support, and that allows you to connect with people in your area when you feel ready, of course.

Link: myflfamilies.com/service-programs/samh/prevention/suicide-prevention/loss-survivors.shtml

Samaritans Hope

The Samaritans have been helping people for decades, and many have found a reason to go on after talking with a Samaritan volunteer.

We are not going to suggest that the Samaritans are the solution to your problems, but they will help you to find perspective and give you the strength and tools to deal with and process what you have been through.

The Samaritans offer a variety of programs for children and adults.

Link: samaritanshope.org/our-services/grief-support/find-grief-support-resources

Alliance Of Hope

Alliance of Hope has two main focuses: healing and remembrance. Getting past a suicide is not immediate, and it takes time to heal from something so traumatic. And while suicide can be scarring, the person who committed suicide should not be forgotten—remembering them is a part of the healing process.

You are not alone, and the hope alliance is there for you when you feel alone. A network of suicide survivors is waiting to guide you through this chapter of your life.

Link: allianceofhope.org

TAPS

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors offers help and support to the survivors of military suicide. The grief from suicide is different from any other form of grief, and the hard truth is that suicide within the military is common and often hard to understand.

If you have lost a loved one who was a part of the military, you have help at hand. There are volunteer survivors who have been exactly where you are now, and they will help you work through “healthy grief” so you can live your life.

Link: taps.org/suicide

**Spaulding Decon is often called to clean up suicides. These are the most difficult of all the jobs we do. We strongly advise that you seek help if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide. Please use the resources listed on this blog.

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