Where to Go for Help, Hope, and Healing

After Suicide Loss:

Support, Books, And Resources

Few things can so devastate us as the suicide of a loved one, especially of one’s own child.

Fr Ron Rolheiser
Pink Rose petals and leaves scattered on a dark green table
Pink Roses, My Forever Son

If You’ve Lost a Child to Suicide

These Resources May Be Helpful

  1. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention page for survivors of suicide loss.
  2. The American Association of Suicidology’s Suicide Loss page.
  3. The A.F.S.P. support group listing.
  4. Survivors of Suicide
  5. The Compassionate Friends runs in-person groups, which you can find here, as well as 34 closed Facebook groups, one called “Loss Due to Suicide.”
  6. Alliance of Hope provides information, consultations and support to suicide loss survivors though its website and online community forum. It operates like a 24/7 support group supervised by trained moderators and a mental health professional. The forum includes such topics as “grief, blame and forgiveness” and “parents who lost children.”
  7. Parents of Suicides

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

Red Peonies surrounded by glossy green leaves. Close Up photograph.
Red Peonies, My Forever Son

“Suicide is Not a Choice: Surviving Infinite Grief After the Suicide of My Child”

Suicide Is Not “Selfish”

Current research absolutely supports the validity of mental illness. Current research and researchers in the mental health field know indelibly that suicide is not a choice your child makes.

Beth Brown, My Forever Son

The Stigma of Suicide

Viewing suicide as a choice promotes the misunderstanding that people who engage in suicidal behavior are selfish. Selfishness has been defined by Merriam-Webster as “seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.” Suicide does not generate pleasure, advantage or well-being. People who take their own lives commonly feel like a burden to others or experience intense emotional pain that overwhelms their capacity to continue with life. Making others feel guilty is typically the furthest thing from their mind.

John Ackerman, PhD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

We often underestimate how many factors contribute to an outcome as complex and final as suicide. Those who experience the kind of emotional pain associated with suicide do not typically want to die; they wish for an end to unbearable emotional pain and, often, the resources that allow them to hold on aren’t available. Individuals who struggle with thoughts of suicide usually have a hard time thinking flexibly and their ability to see an end to pain and a life worth living is greatly compromised.

John Ackerman, PhD Nationwide Children’s Hospital

A choice usually involves making a selection based on multiple factors or preferences. Sadly, an inability to make rational, life-affirming decisions is a hallmark of suicidal thinking. Intense emotion pain, hopelessness and a narrowed, negative view of the future interferes with balanced decision-making.

John Ackerman, PhD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

All Excerpts Appear in “Suicide is Not a Choice” written by the mother of a teenaged son who died by suicide. Read the article in its entirety

Photograph of Bright Purple crocus with yellow centers in spring. My Forever Son

Resources for Parents Who Have Lost a Child to Suicide

It takes as long as it takes. Be gentle with yourself. And in the wake of catastrophic loss, remember to breathe.

Beth Brown, My Forever Son

Where to Find Support, Resources, and Hope-Losing a Child to Suicide

Books and Resources for Loss Survivors

White Candles in different sizes

Every 11 Minutes, Someone Dies by Suicide: A Look at the Staggering Suicide Statistics, Facts, and Figures From 2020

. . .the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that after a stable period from 2000 to 2007, the rate of suicide among those aged 10 to 24 increased dramatically — by 56 percent — between 2007 and 2017, making suicide the second leading cause of death in this age group, following accidents like car crashes.

Jane E. Brody, December 2019, The New York Times, “The Crisis in Youth Suicides”

Along with suicides, since 2011, there’s been nearly a 400 percent increase nationally in suicide attempts by self-poisoning among young people. “Suicide attempts by the young have quadrupled over six years, and that is likely an undercount,” said Henry A. Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center, who called the trend “devastating.” “These are just the ones that show up in the E.R.”

Jane E. Brody, December 2019, The New York Times, “The Crisis in Youth Suicide”

“Nationally, suicide has emerged as the second leading cause of death for children ages 10-19 years old.”

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Center for Suicide and Research

Nationally, suicide has emerged as the second leading cause of death for children ages 10-19 years old.

*Nearly 1 in 6 teens has seriously contemplated suicide in the past year.

*Suicide affects people of all backgrounds. 

*Early identification of risk factors can aid behavioral health specialists in prevention strategies for youth at risk of suicide.

*Suicide is complex and tragic yet often preventable if communities are provided with the right tools.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Center for Suicide and Research

Suicide Breaks Hearts

“10 Ways to Support a Loved One After Losing Someone to Suicide”

by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Refrain from saying “I know how you feel” unless you are also a suicide loss survivor. Instead, something like, “I don’t know what to say: I have no idea what you’re going through, but I care about you and I want to be here for you,” will be more honest and meaningful.

Read about suicide loss. You’ll better understand what your loved one is experiencing, and in the process might discover helpful information you can share with the

Don’t wait for your loved one to ask you for help; they may be too deep in their grief to realize what they need. Rather than saying, “Let me know if I can help,” do something specific for them, like shop for groceries, offer to babysit, bring dinner to their home, etc.

Help connect your loved one with other suicide loss survivors through International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, AFSP’s Healing Conversations program, and bereavement support groups.(When appropriate, consider offering to accompany them to an event so that they don’t feel so alone.)

Many people find that professional counseling helps them deal with their grief in a healthy way. Help your loved one search for a therapist, schedule appointments, etc.

Don’t be afraid to speak the name of the person who died. Your loved one will be grateful for the opportunity to reminisce.

Knowing what to expect and learning from someone else’s experience can help both you and your loved one get through the more difficult times.

Just be there. Sit with them. Watch TV or a movie. Listen to music. Go for a walk together.

Be patient. This experience has changed your loved one’s life forever. The weeks and months following the funeral, when the initial shock wears off and the full reality of what has happened sinks in, may be the toughest for them. Continue to check in, and let them know you are thinking of them, that you’re there for them, and that you want to listen.

Most importantly, be sure to remind your friend of their self-care needs: get plenty of rest, eat nutritiously, etc.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
A purple Hellebore flower with a white center and a few green leaves stating: "Suicide is Not a Choice: "Surviving Infinite Grief After Losing My Son to Suicide" My Forever Son

Suicide is Not a Choice: “Surviving Infinite Grief After Losing My Son to Suicide”

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By Beth Brown

Rememberer of dreams. Whisperer of gardens green.
At the whim of "Most Beloved" and a hot cup of tea.
I live life between, straddled here now and then,
My continuity through writing--
Pen dripping ink, mind swirling confused,
Love lingering still, and Most Beloved's purring soothes.

Blogger at "Gardens at Effingham" (where cats do the talking) and "My Forever Son" (where a mother's heart runs deep after losing her son to suicide)
Musician. Writer. Literary Connoisseur.
At the whim of a calico cat and a strong cup of tea.

15 replies on “Finding Help, Hope, and Healing After Suicide Loss: Support, Books, and Resources”

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