Suicide is frightening to talk about… Part 2

What can we do to help support suicide survivors? ___________________________________

Individual counseling and suicide support groups can be particularly helpful. While there are many grief support groups, grief support focused specifically on suicide appears to be much more valuable for suicide survivors.

As Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, Vol 14, No. 2, 2012 reports, “For many friends and family of a suicide victim, participation in support groups is felt to be their only access to people whom they feel can understand them, or the only place where their feelings are acceptable.”

As the support group talks together, we who are suicide survivors may obtain assurance that we are not alone in our feelings. Others, we find, have faced similar experiences and have survived not only intact but often able to better bear their grief. The bonds that form among participants can be very strong as they offer each other mutual support. Also there is practical advice for such real-life obligations as dealing with legal issues, talking to others (including one’s children), developing fitting memorials for the deceased, coping with holidays and special events, and setting realistic goals including care for one’s self.

Successful suicide support groups share the characteristics of other successful groups:  They provide accurate information, give permission to grieve, help normalize emotional and behavioral episodes that are out of keeping from one’s usual personality and deportment.  Most importantly, successful groups convey to survivors that they are not alone.

Please note, a support group may be especially effective for children who have lost a parent or family member by suicide.

Support groups can be found on Web sites of such groups as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) which host directories for hundreds of suicide support groups in the United States.