If someone you love has taken his or her life, you might be feeling devastated. You could be feeling shock, disbelief and horror. You might be asking yourself: Why did they do it? Could I have prevented it?
All these and so many other emotions can overwhelm you, leaving you hurt, helpless and confused. At times you might even question whether you’re going crazy. You may wonder whether you are the only person in the world experiencing such trauma. All these thoughts are very normal.
But you are not alone. Many people before you have faced the same crisis. When someone takes their own life, it can deeply affect not only the closest family and friends, but it also brings pain to more distant relatives and acquaintances, like grandparents, cousins, friends, teachers and co-workers.
It’s possible to survive. Many people feel such intense emotional pain after the suicide of a loved one that they wonder whether they can survive. If you feel this way, it is best to talk about your feelings with someone you trust. You can always be in touch with the National SuicidePrevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained volunteer who will listen and understand what you are going through.
What to tell others. Many people find it very hard to tell others the truth about their loved one’s suicide. They might feel embarrassed; they might be tempted to give other reasons. This can seem to help at first, but in the long run, it adds to the stress because you might feel like you have to keep the lie going. When the truth does come out, it can also be hard to explain what you said before. It’s also best to give a simple statement. Try not to go into too many details.
Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.
Donna Noonan, MPH, CHES
Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator