It’s no secret that death by suicide is one of our nation’s rising issues today. Chances are sometime in your life, you will either know someone who has died by suicide or you will need to be there for someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. It can be hard to know what to say, how to say it, and how to respond. Here are a few tips:
- Begin by educating yourself about suicide. It can be helpful to understand what it is and how mental health impacts it.
- Encourage your loved one to get professional support. There are many counselors and organizations that specialize in loss and suicide as well as support groups you can help them get connected to. Here are a few :International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, AFSP’s Survivor Outreach Program, and bereavement support groups.
- Don’t try to over-relate. Death by suicide can be a very different loss and grief response than losing a loved one in some other ways. Try not to say that you know how they feel or that you understand. Rather say things like “I can’t imagine but you are going through, but i am here to support you through this.”
- Be patient with their healing.
- Don’t wait for them to ask what they need. Find ways to support them by calling, texting, bringing food, sending cards, etc.
- Remind them it’s okay to speak about their loved one, that you are comfortable with reminiscing about who this person was to them.
- Remind them to take care of themselves by eating, sleeping, doing things they enjoy, and getting out of the house when possible.
Healing from a loss by suicide can be a painful and long process. You will be a huge support to them if you can stick by them from beginning to end.