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Hope and Healing after Suicide

Overview

What to expect

A death by suicide is a traumatic event. Feelings of shock, denial, guilt, anger, shame, confusion and sadness are common responses to grief. Survivors of suicide loss usually feel numb and in shock when they first find out about the suicide and for several weeks after or even longer. The feeling of shock helps to protect you from the pain of what's happened. Most people find it hard to think clearly. You may forget things. You may replay the suicide over and over in your mind and find you can’t stop asking “Why?” These reactions are normal, as are other strong feelings you may have. You’re not going crazy—you’re mourning the loss in your own way.

Sometimes people who have experienced a loss by suicide will have suicidal thoughts themselves.

If you’re thinking of suicide, there is help. Call 911 or Canada Suicide Prevention Service, or visit your local emergency room.

Tips for coping with grief:

  • Remember that healing takes time. Be patient with yourself and take each moment or day one step at a time.
  • Talk to someone you trust – a friend, family member, colleague, spiritual leader or your health care provider.
  • Join a suicide grief support group.
  • Tell people what you need or how they can help you.

Telling friends and family

Although it may be hard to speak openly about suicide, it’s important to tell friends and family what really happened. This lets them help each other cope with their grief and also helps you work through yours. In some situations, you might choose to say something as brief as, “His death was a suicide and I just can’t talk about it yet”, or “She was struggling with depression and died by suicide”.

Let others help you

You may feel very confused at first and find it very hard to cope—so let other people help you. Look to your friends, family, place of worship, community, and others for support. They can deal with callers and help make funeral and other arrangements. They can also be there to simply listen.

Talk to a healthcare provider if you are:

  • using drugs or alcohol to cope with your loss
  • having trouble doing everyday tasks such as going to work or school or getting out of bed
  • having strong emotions that are affecting your daily life such as taking your anger out on others or blaming yourself

Find Support

Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

Current as of: October 17, 2018

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services