Families describe the loss of a loved one by suicide as devastating. Survivors
say that friends and family are critically important to them during
the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and for a long time afterwards. Family
survivors say time and time again that isolation is something to
be avoided. They say over and over that you need to
talk. You need to talk to people who are not afraid to listen. You
need to talk to people who are able to support you during the immediate
devastation and during the aftermath when some may expect that
you “get over it”. Survivors may find it helpful
to talk to family members and friends who can truly listen, health
care providers, clergy and religious leaders, mental health professionals
and, most importantly, other survivors. They emphasize that
it is vital to connect with others and talk during a time that
most people, understandably, find it hard to reach out.
The loss of a loved one through suicide severely challenges anyone’s
ability to cope. Please focus on your own self-care. Think
about your needs and take steps to make sure that you take care
of yourself. Talk to a trusted friend, seek an understanding
religious leader, consider joining a survivor support group, seek
out professional mental health care, talk to your own doctor, and
reach out to your family. At times, you may need to be alone
and that is helpful, but do not withdraw even if it is the only
thing you really want to do. You live in a community that
cares about you and your pain. If you are unsure who to contact
in the community who can offer help, click on the Community link. Reach
out. We will reach out to you.
Listed below are organizations and resources that survivors have
found helpful and supportive during an extremely difficult and
A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide by Jeffrey Jackson
is a very helpful and compassionate guide for those grieving
the loss of a loved one to suicide. It can be viewed and
downloaded from the American Association of Suicidology website.
Samaritans have a survivor-to-survivor program that connects trained
volunteers who are survivors to other survivors for support. The
Samaritans also sponsor a program called SafePlace which is a support
group of caring people who have experienced the loss of loved ones
The website for the American Foundation for Suicide prevention
contains information on coping with loss by suicide. Click on
Surviving Suicide Loss.
This is an independent website dedicated to helping survivors resolve
their grief and pain in their own personal way.
The Compassionate Friends provides support for parents and siblings
who have experienced the death of a loved one. It is not specific
The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families provides
information for teens, children and families who are coping with
the death of a loved one. Their book Helping Teens Cope
with Death is an excellent resource and can be purchased from
A local program related to the Dougy Center, The Children’s
Room Center for Grieving Children and Teenagers provides bereavement
support for children, teens, young adults and families. It
is located in Arlington, MA.
The following books may also be helpful and are available through
Dying to Be Free: A Healing Guide for Families after a Suicide. This
is a healing guide written with compassion and insight by Beverly
Cobain, a psychiatric nurse and cousin of Kurt Cobain who died
by suicide and Jean Larch, a crisis intervention specialist.
Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding
Hope and Healing Your Heart by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph D. This
is a helpful guide for those who have experienced the death
of a loved one. It is not specific for suicide.