Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy. While no one is immune to loss through bereavement that we can experience at any point in our lives, suicide bereavement seems to have a more layered and complex impact both on immediate and wider social circles. Suicide bereavement radiates outwards and can impact a large group of the community, even touching people that the person who died did not know well.
Our response to suicide bereavement can be both emotional and physical, as the news is so shocking that we can find ourselves in a ‘trauma response’ which is systemic – affecting our whole being. We can experience unexpected levels of anxiety and find it hard to relax, our bodies can tense up and we feel ‘on edge’ and jumpy. Perhaps we react stronger than usual to everyday challenges and experiences and this reaction can worry or bother us and lead to further anxiety. For most of us this response will heal with time. Support can really help us navigate these experiences.
We can experience confusion and ask how could this have possibly happened? Immediate family and close friends may feel the need to investigate events leading up to the person’s death attempting to answer ‘why?’ questions. It is understandable that we look for answers or reasons why a death by suicide has happened. It is important to remember that the circumstances are complicated.
Alongside this we can feel deeply shocked and for many of us our emotions can run extremely high, experiencing big feelings that can take us by surprise and leave us disorientated and saddened. Even when we know that the person who died had loving family and friends around them, it is only natural that we feel that awful and tortuous emotional response – guilt. Suicide shakes us all to our core and at its heart there are so many unanswered questions and painful feelings.
Suicide evokes curiosity in others and can become public when the person’s death becomes the subject of media coverage. Rumour and gossip can be so damaging for the bereaved yet sadly can occur as misinformation happens quickly through social media.
For some, there is a stigma attached to suicide that can lead to feelings of isolation, which makes bereavement even more painful to deal with.
Encouraging each other to get help during this time is so important. If we have a pre-existing relationship with mental illness such as depression, anxiety or are distressed by other troubling life experiences at the moment, we can be particularly impacted by the bereavement. We may find ourselves feeling low and we must talk about this.
So what can we do?
- If we have been affected by the news we should seek support. We may not have been close to the person, but due to many different reasons we can still be deeply affected
- If we are active on social media we should not spread rumours or misinformation
- We must acknowledge the tragedy of the person’s death and work together to prevent suicide by educating ourselves and signposting those distressed to support
- We must hold the hope that together we can work towards preventing suicide and encourage each of us to get support and keep talking about how we are feeling
Jami together with ERIC* are holding support events to help people recently bereaved by suicide or who are struggling to deal with the news of hearing about someone who has died by suicide. Please join us on Tuesday 8th February, 7-8pm for an online session which will include a welcome and introduction to the event and breakout rooms for sharing experiences in smaller groups. We will also offer information about support services available. Everyone welcome. To book visit here
Jami is working with communities to prevent suicide through training and education. If you would like further information please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
For mental health support contact Jami at jamiuk.org/get-support/ or call 020 8458 2223
Suicide bereavement is particularly hard to cope with. We are often left with unanswered questions and painful thoughts and we need to give ourselves time to heal. Doing this alone can feel insurmountable so finding support can be a life saver.
GriefTalk from Grief Encounter is a helpline to support bereaved children, young people and families. Call 0808 802 0111, email email@example.com or visit griefencounter.org.uk Weekdays 9am – 9pm
The Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service (JBCS) supports Jewish individuals through loss and bereavement. Call 020 8951 3881 or visit jbcs.org.uk
AtaLoss.org is the UK’s signposting site to find local suicide bereavement support
Help is at Hand – a publication by the Department of Health and Social Care is available from https://supportaftersuicide.org.uk/resource/help-is-at-hand/
SUPPORT AND HELP WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
If you need support or are supporting someone who needs help, contact Jami at jamiuk.org/get-support/ or contact 020 8458 2223
If you’re struggling to cope or need immediate help, contact Shout’s 24/7 crisis text service. Text Jami to 85258 for free, confidential support
For immediate help, ring Samaritans on Freephone 116 123 (24 hours a day)
For free, safe and confidential online counselling and emotional wellbeing services for adults, contact Jami Qwell at www.qwell.io/jami
For face-to-face support, contact The Listening Place at listeningplace.org.uk/ or call 020 3906 7676. You can self-refer via a form on their website.
If you’re under 35, call the Papyrus HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 41 41 or text 07860 039 967
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ERIC
Jami coordinates the Emergency Response Initiative Consortium (ERIC) with Norwood, CST, JBCS, Grief Encounter and in partnership with PaJeS, to provide support after a student suicide or sudden traumatic death. If you are an educator, we have published a resource ‘Coping After Suicide or Sudden Traumatic Death’.
We regularly provide briefing sessions on how to use the guide to put in place measures to support the school in the event of a suspected suicide.
Our bank of first responders from across the ERIC charities are highly trained to provide the right kind of support to the school community.
To sign up for the event visit Suicide bereavement support – Jami UK