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How Stressful is a Suicide?

The level of stress a person feels after losing a loved one to suicide is catastrophically high – equivalent to that of a highly traumatic concentration camp experience, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

In other words, if we established a “stress scale” from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest, losing a loved one to suicide would rank at 100 – the highest stress level imaginable.

First, the shock of losing a loved one to suicide can overwhelm anyone, but then the anger, confusion, sadness, guilt, and grief that usually follow can be debilitating.

And that is not the end of the stress, because a suicide survivor must also cope with the STIGMA associated with suicide.

So how can anyone cope with such a high stress level? Get help IMMEDIATELY. Get help from as many CARING and TRUSTWORTHY people as possible.

Get into therapy. Confide in friends and family members. Reach out to other suicide survivors.

Realize there will be a long journey of healing ahead but you WILL get through it.

And please understand that the stress of a suicide can cloud your thinking. So be gentle with yourself. If you have difficulty concentrating, become forgetful, or cannot focus, please know that you are undergoing VERY NORMAL emotions and don’t push yourself too hard.

Let yourself cry. Express your emotions. Grieve. Talk. Allow yourself to work through your loss at your own pace…in your own way. Don’t compare your reaction to that of other people. You are a very special, unique person who will heal in your own time.

Again, be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that you are undergoing a level of stress that is EXTREMELY high.

Anything you can do to relax will also help. Take hot baths. Go for walks. Do some deep breathing. Listen to soft music. Light some candles. Relax, my friend…relax.

During your recovery process you will eventually be able to CELEBRATE the life of your loved one. You will begin to remind yourself about countless wonderful things about your loved one. And your stress will continue to abate.

When you can, do things that you enjoy…whatever they may be. Go to a nice restaurant. Go to a concert. Take a small trip. Don’t push yourself too hard, but allow yourself to start enjoying life again.

Know that countless others have experienced what you are experiencing and have made it through. And they are doing VERY well today.

My friend, you WILL make it through this journey. You WILL rebound from this stress. You WILL be able to celebrate the life of your loved one. And you WILL have an amazing life.

by Kevin Caruso, Suicide.org

What are some of the needs of Suicide Survivors?

Let us be who we've become -- people changed by tragedy. Just try to "be there" and support whatever form our grief takes. Trying to understand is okay, but just caring is enough. Realize that you can't possibly relate to what we are experiencing. You don't have to. 

Mourning a death by suicide is a lengthy, intense and confusing process. It is also unique; each of us experiences grief in our own way.

Because suicide is a sudden, unexpected and often violent loss, the grief it causes is excruciating, prolonged, and still often stigmatized. This may cause us to withdraw socially. We may even feel responsible for our loss. Those who witness the suicide or find the body may suffer post traumatic stress.

We don't "get over" a suicide. The effects may stabilize, but the loss is forever felt. Our personal values and beliefs are shattered and we are changed emotionally.

Every suicide survivor needs immediate support at the time of the loss. Individualized or family counseling, medical care, and participation in on-going support groups can be extremely helpful.

To read a heartbreaking first-hand account of the aftermath of a loved one's suicide, click HERE.

Suicide Survivors

"There are always two parties to a death; the person who dies and the survivors who are bereaved."
-Arnold Toynbee

A suicide survivor is an individual who has lost someone he/she cared for deeply to suicide. The victim may have been a parent, child, spouse, sibling, other relative, partner, or friend. It is estimated that every suicide leaves six to eight "survivors."



More YouTube Videos:

Dedicated to Suicide Survivor's

Katie Couric's Notebook: Teen Suicide

National Survivor's of Suicide Day

Lidia's Story: Suicide Loss Survivor

Survivor's of Suicide Day

Clip from AFSP's National Survivors of Suicide Day Program (2009)

Abraham: Son's in Non-Physical

"One often calms one's grief by recounting it." ~ Pierre Corneille

It's okay to talk about "it" because that's all that's on our minds. Let any statements we make about respon-sibility, blame, or guilt just flow. It will sort itself out over time. Please mention our loved one, whether it was a child, spouse, sibling, parent or other loved one. Avoid setting any timetable for recovery as there isn't any.

Some suicide survivors find it uncomfortable to speak about the loss. With this in mind, it's wise simply to ask, "How are you feeling? Can we talk about it?" And then be willing to listen.


Taken in part from lifegard.tripod.com.

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Suicide Prevention

If you have an emergency, please call 911.

If you or someone you love is in need of suicide prevention support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the website for more info.

For local support please call the UNI Crisisline at 801-587-3000.

Resources are also available on the Utah Department of Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health website.