Navigating Suicide Loss
Anyone who has lost someone to suicide will have many questions that remain unanswered
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The event represents a global commitment to focus attention on suicide prevention.
However, suicide can’t always be prevented. Sometimes there are no signs. Those who have been bereaved by suicide know there are aspects of this type of loss that are uniquely painful, hard to accept, challenging to explain to friends, family and colleagues, and seemingly impossible to overcome.
According to a report by the University of Manchester, 60 percent of people bereaved by suicide did not access support following the death. Suicide, even when it has been spoken about, can feel shocking and sudden, leaving those left behind feeling like their world has been shattered and their hearts broken.
Loved ones bereaved by suicide are left with no time to prepare for the loss, they may have had no idea that it was going to happen, and they will have had no time to say goodbye. This can impact further on their overwhelming grief. It is normal to experience many, often conflicting emotions:
Isolation, as it’s so hard for others to understand
Suicide leaves many unanswered questions, including:
Why did they want to die?
Why didn’t I notice the signals?
Why didn’t I call them back?
Why didn’t they leave an explanation?
Could I have done anything?
Was it my fault?
It can be hard to acknowledge and accept that many of these questions will remain unanswered. The idea of spending a lifetime trying to find the answers and perhaps never finding any can be unbearable.
Searching for the answers can leave us stuck in our grief, searching for answers can deny us of our basic emotional needs - the need to be loved, heard, accepted and understood at a time when our grief is all-consuming.
Help With Navigating Suicide Loss
Anyone who has lost someone to suicide can benefit from support, in whatever form makes sense for you. For many, this is a grief specialist, counsellor, or therapist; for others, connecting with a support group, help from a charity, or a faith community. Support from family, friends, spouses, and other loved ones can also help.
Whatever form it takes, it's important that you have a safe space where you can process painful emotions, express any conflicted feelings, and come to terms with your loved one's death.
If you have been bereaved by suicide then do reach out for our support. Other organisations that provide support for navigating suicide loss include SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide), Samaritans, and Pete's Dragons.
Jill Attree is a Grief Specialist, based in Dorset. Jill has helped grievers throughout the UK by listening without judgement, analysis or criticism - so that you can move forward through your loss. To help you create a brighter tomorrow. Find out more about Jill here.