Those who die by suicide often do so believing that no one will care if they die - this is almost never reality. Depression and other mental health issues completely distort one’s outlook on life, creating incessant feelings of extreme isolation and inadequacy so that sufferers truly believe they are doing their loved ones a favor. However, they are all too wrong.
Mental health tends to focus mostly on the emotional and mental distress of those contemplating suicide, yet they are not the only ones affected. Often called survivors, those left behind now have their own battle to face. Unanswered questions often lead to complicated grief, anger, anxiety and depression.
Suicide carries a lot of stigma and judgment. Many survivors may choose to avoid talking about it and even lie about such situations, as they struggle with shame and anger.
For these survivors, it is essential to remain connected to others during this time. Isolation and loneliness can cause grief to worsen. It is also important to maintain self-care afterward, although this can be very difficult. Continuing healthy habit routines such as good sleep hygiene, staying active and eating nutritionally can prevent falling into depression after a loved one’s suicide.
Suicide never just affects one person. Because it is sudden and often unexpected it can be challenging to grieve in healthy way. Those left behind are now faced with learning to cope with complex emotions such as self-blame, guilt and anger. According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide increases survivors’ risk as well, triggering a devastating cycle of mental distress.
Brookhaven Retreat is well aware of the anguish felt by the survivors of suicide. Just as it is important to care for those with self-harming thoughts and address risk factors like depression and substance abuse, it is critical that we not forget to recognize the impact on those left behind.