With more than 800,000 lives lost to suicide across the world each year, survivors, the name given to those who have lost a loved one to suicide, are all over the globe. Whether you lost your sibling, parent, lover, friend, or coworker to suicide, being a survivor takes strength and courage on a daily basis. Survivors not only have to bury their loved ones and take care of the assets and finances left behind, but they are also left with so many unanswered questions, mainly “why”?
· “Why did my loved one commit suicide”?
· “Could I have done anything to prevent this?”
· “Is this my fault”?
· “How long was my loved one suffering?”
· “Were there warning signs that I missed?”
International Survivors of Suicide Day is November 24th and is the one day a year when individuals affected by suicide loss gather around the world at events in their local communities to find comfort and understand as they share stories of healing and hope. If you recently have lost a loved one to suicide, hopefully, these words can provide you some comfort and clarity during your time of need:
• “Allow yourself to grieve. We all grieve in our own time in our own way.” -Sally-Ann Ganzer.
• “A person never truly gets ‘over’ a suicide loss. You get through it. Day by day. Sometimes it’s moment by moment.” -Holly Kohler.
• “Know it wasn’t your fault. Know someday you may take comfort in educating people about suicide.” -Sue Mahlburg.
• “Please reach out. Speak up. The worst thing you could do is to stay silent like I did for so many years.” -Kelsey Elizabeth Oney.
• “When I lost my brother to suicide, the most helpful thing for me was part of a support group. Through that support, I learned to honor my brother’s life and the wonderful person he was by sharing stories.” -Judie Zerilli.
• “Read books written by other survivors. Write.”- Shakeena Faith
• “Don’t become a statistic yourself. Get counseling and be open to psychiatry if you need it.” -Christine Anderson.
• “You will survive, and you will find purpose in the chaos. Moving on doesn’t mean letting go.” -Mary VanHaute.
• “So far, the best thing for me has been advocating during difficult times for prevention. It helps me to focus on the positive.” – Sherrie Gerdon.
Suicide survivor outcomes
As a suicide survivor, it can be very difficult to move on after a loved one’s intentional death. Unanswered questions, grief, and an unexpected loss can take a toll on survivors. Suicide survivors are at risk for complicated bereavement, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, resulting from poor coping skills. Grief counseling, suicide support groups, and suicide hotlines and organizations can all be great assets for suicide survivors. Seeking help to prevent unhealthy patterns and coping skills can help with the grieving and prevent long-term complications and help the individual get into the community and understand and raise awareness about suicide. Becoming a suicide prevention advocate can be a form of therapy in itself. The following are books on suicide written by survivors and how they have dealt with their tragic loss.
• Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief: Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., Chellehead Works, 2010.
• Silent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide: Christopher Lukas and Henry M. Seiden, Ph.D., Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007 (revised edition).
• Suicide of a Child : Adina Wrobleski, Centering Corp., 2002.
• Black Suicide: The Tragic Reality of America’s Deadliest Secret: Alton R. Kirk, Ph.D., Beckham Publications Group, 2009.
• Unfinished Conversation: Healing from Suicide and Loss — A Guided Journey: Robert E. Lesoine and Marilynne Chopel, Parallax Press, 2013.
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If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health illness or substance use and addiction disorder, we can help now more than ever! Akua Mind & Body provides an integrative treatment approach with multiple levels of care from detox, residential to virtual outpatient programs. With several facilities throughout the Sacramento Region, Los Angeles & Orange County Region, and San Diego Region, we aim to provide our clients with a solid foundation for healing and transformation. Gender specific and Co-ed facilities available.
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