International Suicide Survivors Day: November 18, 2017
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US with more than 44,000 dying each year to suicide. For each suicide family, friends, and loved ones of the person who died are left behind to try and make sense of the loss and figure out how to continue on.
It is estimated that for every suicide there are at least 6 survivors; that is at least 264,000 people each year that are grieving this complicated and devastating loss. Survivors of suicide may experience many emotions throughout the grieving process: shock, guilt, shame, hopelessness, sadness, anger, relief and much more. Grieving a complicated loss like that of suicide is not a linear process, and the weight of what survivors are left with can be very heavy. The expectation should not be to return to the person they were before the loss, but rather to adjust to and cope with trauma of losing a loved one to suicide. Family and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide are recognized each year on International Suicide Survivors Day, which is the Saturday before Thanksgiving – November 18th this year.
When someone has lost a loved one to suicide, the incredible trauma and grief can feel very isolating. Maintaining connectedness to their own friends and families during this time is an important piece of supporting their healing from this loss. Supporting a friend or family member who has survived a suicide can be very difficult. People often aren’t sure what to say, how to help, or what to talk about. The reality is that there is no one right thing to say to someone who has lost an important person to suicide. Most important is your presence, your understanding, and your careful and patient listening. The single most helpful thing that you can do is listen, without judgment, criticism, or prejudice. Let them take their time and open up to you about their thoughts and feelings. They will share with you what they are ready to share when they are ready to share it. If you do not know what to say that is fine, just being there, showing your support is what they need.
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) offers a variety of resources and programs to survivors and their loved ones. Visit www.suicidology.org for these resources and for more information.
Join FamilyMeans Center for Grief and Loss for International Suicide Survivors Day this Saturday, November 18th at 1pm for a documentary and brief program. Click here to learn more.
Looking for more support? FamilyMeans Center for Grief and Loss has clinical therapists experienced in supporting survivors of suicide loss through the healing process. Visit www.griefloss.org to learn more or contact 651-641-0177 to set-up an appointment.