Personal Assistance Service (PAS) | 2200 West Main Street | Erwin Square Tower | 4th Floor, Suite 400A | Durham, NC 27705 | 919-416-1PAS (919-416-1727)

Helping a Suicide Survivor

People who lose a loved one, friend or colleague to suicide not only experience all of the trauma associated with any unexpected death, but also struggle with additional complications to grief. It is not unusual for individuals to experience shame at the stigma attached to suicide, anger at the individual they love, and guilt, however unreasonable, about not having seen the suicide coming and stopped it.

Individuals may isolate themselves in their grief, not wanting others to know about the suicide, or worrying that others are judging them because of the suicide.

Steps you can take to help a suicide survivor include:

Listen

Just being with someone and allowing them to feel their feelings without being judged is one of the most powerful gifts you can give someone.

Validate Feelings

It is normal to experience a wide range of fluctuating feelings after losing someone to suicide. Don't try to talk someone out of their feelings by saying "you don't mean that", "it's God's will", or "you will get over it".

Be Patient

It is normal for someone to be inconsistent while they are grieving. The person may not want to be alone one minute, and may want to be left alone the next. He may back out of plans you have made; she may be irritable. Make allowances for things you might take personally in other circumstances.

Provide Practical Support

Don't wait for someone to ask what needs doing, they may not be able to think of it. Ask if you can mow their lawn, provide meals, take their children to do something fun.

Learn about Resources

Find out about local resources available to the individual, such as support groups, grief counseling, and therapy. When appropriate, talk to the individual about these resources and offer to help him or her get connected.

For more information on how to be supportive see Helping a Survivor Heal.