Lost someone close to suicide?

— Skylight Trust

Any kind of death is difficult. A suicide death is sudden, and particularly tough to handle.

If you are concerned about your immediate safety or the safety of someone else – Ring 111

Someone said that suicide grief, is "grief in stereo", such is the impact of losing someone this way.

It leaves people with many questions which are difficult, if not impossible, to answer, especially 'why'? It causes great frustration, sometimes guilt, and many 'if only...' feelings, on top of what you would expect to feel when you are mourning.

It will deeply affect whānau and friends and even impact on others who were not that close to the person, such as workmates, team mates, acquaintances, and neighbours.

When you hear about the suicide, your reaction will be unique to you, it could be:

  • a sense of not knowing how to react
  • unable to really hear what people are saying
  • a range of intense emotions all at once
  • disbelief
  • inability to cope.

Everyone grieves differently, it can be experienced emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. There are no right or wrong ways, there is no secret method that will take your pain away, there are no rules to follow, nor is there a set timetable. Take the time and space you need, to grieve in your own way, for as long as it takes. Feeling and expressing your emotions and thoughts, is an important part of facing and making sense of your loss.

When you are grieving someone, you have lost to suicide, it is not uncommon to have very contradictory feelings. For example, you may feel you hurt or ache or you may feel you are numb. You may feel a sense of acceptance, if this was long term mental health condition or chronic illness - or you may feel guilty because you were not able to prevent this from happening or didn't recognise the signs. You may feel angry for many reasons, including, if they didn't come to you for help. Whatever you are feeling, it is important to remember it was not your fault.

The context of suicide can be deeply distressing, and it is not strange to experience trauma symptoms. You may find yourself thinking about it over and over again. If you found the person's body, you may relive the scene in detail or experience flashbacks. Even if you weren't, you may find yourself imagining what and how it happened - all of this this can be unsettling and scary - if this continues and affects your everyday life please seek professional support.

Skylight is here to help you navigate this difficult time. We have contract counselling services in Wellington, Porirua, Lower Hutt, Churton Park, Kāpiti, Whangarei, Auckland, New Plymouth and Christchurch and a partnership network across Aotearoa for support in other regions.

Our specialised Resource Centre and library can support you with information, publications, books and dvds, accessible nationwide free of charge. Please follow the links to contact us for further information and access to the support that you and your whānau need.

We invite you to find out about our Waves programme - an evidence-based, well-evaluated programme for people bereaved by suicide at any time in their lives (for 18+ years old) or Travellers - a school based programme promoting resilience and well-being in year 9 students.

Resources Available at Skylight

Skylight is here to help you through difficult times. We can assist you in a variety of ways with information appropriate for your situation. You are welcome to visit us and receive free information and a support pack from our resource centre and borrow books from the specialist library. We also facilitate Professional Development training and offer Counselling support services for children, young people, family/whānau and individuals who are experiencing tough times.

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