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Hope and healing after suicide

Overview

​​​​​​​​This information is adapted from Hope and healing: A practical guide for survivors of suicide​, an Alberta Health Services resource.

​What to expect after a suicide

Suicide is a traumatic event. If you’ve lost someone to suicide, you may feel numb and in shock for many weeks or longer. The feeling of shock helps to protect you from the pain of what's happened.

You may find it hard to think clearly, forget things, or find you can’t stop asking, “Why?” These reactions are normal, as are other strong feelings such as:

  • denial
  • guilt
  • anger
  • shame
  • confusion
  • sadness

Sometimes people who've lost someone to suicide have suicidal thoughts themselves.

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

Coping with grief

There are things you can do to help yourself cope with grief after a suicide:

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

Telling friends and family

It can be hard to speak openly about suicide. But it’s important to tell friends and family what happened. They can help each other cope with their grief and help you work through yours. Sometimes, you might say something as brief as, “Their death was a suicide and I just can’t talk about it yet, “or “They died by suicide.”

Let others help you

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

When to talk to a healthcare provider

Talk to a healthcare provider if you're:

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

Find s​upport

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

Current as of: March 22, 2021

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services