Thousands of people die every year due to suicide. And in every one of these deaths, they leave an estimated six or more "suicide survivors." Suicide survivors are people who have lost a loved one through suicide. These individuals are left with their grief and have a hard time understanding why a family or a friend would take their own life.
Surviving suicide is, and the grief that comes with it is always difficult, especially if it involves a teen that we expect to live their life beyond our years. Grieving a teen that parents and siblings lost by way of suicide are both complex and traumatic. That is never an easy road, whether the death comes without warning or after a long struggle of fighting the ideations.
Losing a Child or Sibling to Suicide
For parents, the pain of losing a child to suicide is unimaginable. No parent ever dreamed of mourning the loss of their child. The pain and grief can be intensified and may linger forever. Although these feelings may never completely go away, suicide survivors can take these steps to begin the healing process:
Open the lines of communication. Suicide can be isolating for parents and siblings that survive because as much as they need help, relatives and friends often do not know what to say or how to help. Find a support group that you can talk to about your feelings. If you think that the people around you are waiting for you to reach out and ask for help, start the conversation and do not be ashamed to ask for help. A trusted support group can be of great help in your darkest days.
Processing grief differs with each survivor. Remember that it is not just you who is grieving and that your other family members may express their grief differently. What you can do is to be there for them. Understand their tears, anger, guilt, and silence.
Celebrations will be hard. Celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays is tough, especially after the first few years of your loved one's death. Celebrations trigger memories shared with them and will reawaken the sense of loss and anxiety. Expect that your emotions will be on a high on these special days. You must do what is best for your stability, whether that means going ahead on the celebrations or skipping them.
You do not hold the answer to everything. Although it is normal to feel guilty and to question yourself what you could have done differently for your child, you must realize that you might never get or have the answer for them. You can only start healing when you start to forgive both your child and yourself.
You are not alone. Bereaved family members sometimes join a suicide prevention network that helps other parents, surviving family members, and friends thread through their grief.
Helping Children Cope with The Loss of Their Sibling
Losing a sibling to suicide might trigger many emotions for your surviving children. As a parent, you need to reassure your children that there is no right or wrong way to feel. Do not force them to talk about their feelings and instead assure them that they can reach out to you when they are ready.
When to Seek Professional Help
Assistance from a mental health professional may be beneficial for suicide survivors. If you are experiencing increased depression, PTSD, developing suicidal thoughts, feeling of being stuck, and discomfort in discussing your relationship with the deceased. If you see little to no improvement after several months, it's best to seek professional help and talk to someone who knows how to manage the pain brought about by sudden loss.