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International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

11/17/2021 4:45:00 PM
Written By:
Robert Hammack, Health Promotion Specialist-Colonial Behavioral Health

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

As we move towards the end of 2021, excited for the upcoming holidays where we can spend time with our friends and family, let’s also keep in mind those who have lost their loved ones. Loss is never easy no matter the situation, but death due to suicide makes dealing with the loss especially hard for the survivors. Those who have lost someone to suicide face a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that can (and often do) last years after the event. Feelings like guilt, blame, and anger towards the victim, themselves and others are very common. Some survivors may even start to have suicidal thoughts of their own, so it is incredibly important to have people around you who can help you through your grief.

November 20 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a day for family and friends of those whose lives have been impacted by suicide to connect, heal, and support one another. Unfortunately, not everyone has a good support network, and it can be hard to develop that support when you are in the midst of grieving. Often friends and family members want to offer support but have no idea how or where to start. Here are some tips from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention so that you can support your loved one through their grief:

  • Let them know that you are there for them.
  • Don’t say “I understand what you’re going through.” Everyone experiences loss differently because no two relationships are the same. You don’t need to relate to the survivor to help.
  • Don’t ask intrusive questions of how the person died.
  • Don’t place value judgements on the suicide, like stating that it was selfish, weak, or sinful.
  • Do not assign or imply blame about the suicide.
  • Offer proactive support, such as running errands, picking up children from school, or making dinner.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who died. Thinking about the person (instead of the loss) can help grieve in a healthy way.
  • Be patient. It will take time to move on from loss. Do not rush the healing process.
  • Don’t disappear. It can take time for the full reality of the loss to sink in, and the survivor will need help once the initial shock wears off.

If you have lost someone to suicide, it is important to realize that you do not have to go on alone. Whether you get support from friends or family or need to find a support group to help you through your loss, there are people around you who want to help you heal.

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP): provides tips for working through your grief, stories from people who have lost loved ones themselves, and ways to connect with others near you.
    Visit www.afsp.org/ive-lost-someone.
  • NAMI Williamsburg: Dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with mental illness and their families through support, education, and advocacy. Contact NAMI-Williamsburg at 757-220-8535 email at info@namiwilliamsburg.org or visit www.namiwilliamsburg.org for a listing of support groups.

If you or your loved ones are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please contact Colonial Behavioral Health’s Emergency Services at 757-378-5555 (24-hours/Day). Help is just a phone call away. 

Robert Hammack works in Prevention Services at Colonial Behavioral Health. He is the point of contact for the Historic Triangle Drug Prevention Coalition Youth-Sub Committee. 

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