If life is in danger
call 000

Bereaved by suicide

Bereavement by suicide can impact us in different ways and may affect our physical and mental health. It is important to remember you are not alone and there is help available.

When someone dies by suicide, those left behind, the bereaved, often experience a very complicated form of grief caused by a combination of feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Grief is experienced and expressed in unique ways. Many of these reactions relate to the person no longer physically being there, however some may relate to the fact that the death was by suicide. It is important to be able to acknowledge all of these reactions openly and honestly in order to fully understand and process the loss.

When a loved one is lost to injury or illness, people generally come together to provide support. However, following suicide, friends and family or the wider community may not react or respond in the same manner, potentially leaving those bereaved feeling isolated or shamed.

Have you or someone you know lost someone to suicide?

Below are some reactions those bereaved by suicide may experience after their loss:

  • Shock, numbness, denial
  • Searching for reasons ‘why’
  • Guilt
  • Anger/blame
  • Despair
  • Stigma and shame
  • Loneliness/disconnection
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Thoughts of suicide.

Suicide bereavement, like any loss, will take time to process and each person will cope in their own way. You might find some of these suggestions helpful:

  1. Accept your feelings - you may feel a variety of emotions such as grief, despair, anger, guilt, denial, shock, confusion, loneliness, anxiety and even in some cases, relief. All feelings are a normal part of the grieving process.
  2. Care for yourself – do your best to eat well, hydrate, exercise and get quality sleep. Taking care of your physical and emotional self will help you get through each day.
  3. Stay connected and accept support from friends, family and support networks.
  4. You may want to honour the deceased person– talk about them, share memories/photos or practice any spiritual or cultural activities that are meaningful to you.
  5. Consider joining a suicide bereavement group – sharing your experience with others who have been through similar loss might be helpful for you to connect and feel less alone.
  6. Ask for help - talk to a counsellor/psychologist, a helpline like Lifeline, friends and family, online support groups, or a GP to find support and healthy ways to cope.

It can be very difficult to know what to do and how to cope, but help is available. Below are some places to go for information and support. If life is in danger, please call 000.

  

For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via text on 0477 13 11 14 (available 24/7).