AFTER A SUICIDE ATTEMPT

When someone you know attempts or dies by suicide, it can have a traumatic effect that impacts your life in negative ways. It can also put you at increased risk for having suicidal thoughts. 

Remember, having suicidal thoughts does not mean that you will act on them. These feelings and thoughts will likely decrease over time. Here are common emotional responses of someone you know, and healthy ways to cope.

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Feelings of Grief

Grief is deep sorrow that can be overwhelming and shocking. It is different for each person in each circumstance and changes with time. Grief after a suicide often includes:

  • Shock: "I feel numb"

  • Denial: "I feel fine"

  • Guilt: "I think it was my fault"

  • Sadness: "Why bother with anything?"

  • Anger: "How could they do this to me?"

  • Acceptance: "I can miss them and still continue living"

Feelings of Loss

The loss of someone to suicide can feel different from other loss. These potential circumstances common to suicide loss can make the healing process more challenging:

  • Stigma and isolation: talking about suicide can be difficult and sometimes complicated because of other factors such as culture or religion that considers suicide shameful.

  • Mixed Emotions: suicide loss often involves more feelings of anger, abandonment, and rejection than other circumstances of mourning.

  • Needing to understand why: not all questions about why the suicide occurred can be answered, and this can delay healing.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Grief and Loss

  • Seek support from a friend, family member, support group, mental health professional, or spiritual advisor. Support doesn't always come from the place or person you expect it to. Keep looking until you find the support that helps you feel better.

  • Be patient with yourself and others. Not everyone close to you will understand, and that's ok. Set limits for yourself by saying "no" when you need your own time and space.

  • Express yourself in a way that's comforting to you.

  • Allow yourself to have fun. Laughter heals and you are not betraying the person you lost by starting to enjoy life again.

  • Establish a routine as soon as possible after the loss. Building structure in your schedule and routine can help you manage your grief and provide a sense of normalcy.

  • Take care of yourself as best as you can with food, exercise, sleep, and other healthy activities. Avoid alcohol and other substances that will numb your feelings and prevent you from working through them.

  • Decide on how you will talk about your loss if it comes up with others. Allow yourself to say, "I can't talk about this right now, it's too painful," or "They died by suicide, but it's too hard for me to talk about right now."