Help, Hope, and Healing After Suicide Loss:

Support, Books, Resources

If You’ve Lost a Child to Suicide…

These Resources May Be Helpful

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

Fr Ron Rolheiser

Seven Resources for Support

  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.
  7. Parents of Suicides

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. (Or 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources

Pink ground roses with yellow centers surrounded by green leaves
Pink Ground Roses

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

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

The Stigma of Suicide

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

Suicide is Not a Choice

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

Books and Resources for Loss Survivors

. . .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.

*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.

Read More

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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