Yesterday, November 21, was National Survivors of Suicide Day. If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide, then you are a suicide survivor.
The grief experienced by those affected by a suicide is especially complex and intense. In addition to the expected reactions of sorrow and feelings of loss, survivors of suicide can be filled with self-blame, intense anger, obsessive thoughts replaying the hours and days before the suicide, and even their own suicidal ideation. Telling people you’ve lost someone to suicide can be daunting because many people don’t know how to respond to such horrible news, and so survivors can feel isolated and disconnected from their friends and family at a time when they need them most.
If you are a suicide survivor, there are some excellent resources available to give you support and help.
In the Seattle area, the Crisis Clinic (www.crisisclinic.org) provides a twice-monthly drop-in group as well as an eight-week facilitated support group and telephone support. For more information, call the 24-Hour Crisis Line at 206.461.3222 or toll free at 1.866.4CRISIS (866.427.4747).
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (www.afsp.org) has an extensive list of articles and educational materials, including an excellent resource and healing guide, which is available for free. The AFSP website also has information about support groups and online resources for survivors.
The shock and pain of losing a loved one to suicide can be intense, but the pain does ease over time. You are not alone; every year in the United States, 30,000 people commit suicide, each one leaving behind friends and family to cope with the loss. There are millions of people who have lived through the heartbreak and devastation that suicide creates. Although it may not seem possible, healing can and does happen.