Supporting someone bereaved by suicide:
When someone is bereaved by suicide it can be overwhelming and intense. The emotions and feelings experienced may include:
- sleeping and eating pattern changes
- lack of concentration
- feeling rejected
- intense physical pain
- intense emotional pain
- anger and rage
- the search for why.1
It is important to understand that feeling such emotions is normal. For those experiencing this, talking to someone they trust or a professional can be a great help. Talking can be a great help towards healing and is important for health and wellbeing but should only occur once the person feels ready to do so.
Sometimes it is difficult to know how to provide adequate support to people bereaved by suicide or know what to say or do. However, feeling awkward or staying away may leave the bereaved feeling angry, abandoned, stigmatised and isolated.
Any grief can be difficult to respond to and discuss. The stigma attached to suicide makes this even harder.
People who are bereaved by suicide need compassion, recognition and validation of their experience. In summary, they need:
- non-judgmental support
- an opportunity to tell their story, sometimes over and over again
- a safe and supportive environment
- to be deeply listened to and heard
- to express their grief in their own way.2
The What Next Booklet is a useful resource for those bereaved by suicide.
ARBOR (Active Response Bereavement Outreach) offers short to medium-term counselling, referral, volunteer peer support and support groups to people bereaved by suicide.
beyondblue provides information about understanding suicide and grief.
CYPRESS is a free and long term support service for children and young people between the ages of 6 and 18 who have been bereaved by suicide.
Anglicare [Internet]. West Perth (Australia): Anglicare WA; c2016. For those Bereaved. Available from: https://www.anglicarewa.org.au/relationships/suicide-prevention-postvention/arbor/for-those-bereaved/default.aspx
Beyondblue [internet]. Victoria (Australia): Beyond Blue Limited; c2016. Understanding suicide and grief [cited 2017 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/understanding-suicide-and-grief