Survivors of Suicide Loss
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, it may feel at times like no one could possibly understand what you’re going through. But the truth is that you are not alone: there are entire communities dedicated to supporting each other through the agony that is suicide loss.
Since 1999, the Saturday before American Thanksgiving has been designated as International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. On that day, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and its local chapters across the country host events for survivors to meet, connect, and find hope within each other. You can find your local AFSP chapter here (https://afsp.org/find-a-local-chapter/).
So how do you support someone who has lost a loved one to suicide? Frankly, they need the same support that a survivor of any loss would need. Presence, validation, proactive assistance, acts of kindness – these are the kinds of comforts that can lift someone who is in mourning, no matter how their loved one died.
Our culture, thankfully, is slowly but surely shifting away from a place of blame and stigma to a place of empathy and concern when it comes to suicide. We no longer use the phrase “commit suicide,” as we recognize now that it is not a crime to suffer from life- threatening mental illness. Such progress, along with the non-judgmental support of family and friends, what suicide loss survivors and society at large really need.
Abigail Schoenberg, LMFT