Friday, September 13, 2013

Survivors Of a Loved One’s Suicide

For a number of years, I’ve volunteered behind-the-scenes with the Jacquelyn Bogue Foundation by editing and writing some of the Foundation’s material. Thank you to everyone who’s taken part in the hop this week. I’ve been truly touched by the outpouring of support. To end the week, I’ve invited Linda Borders Killian, LCSW, MFT, from the Foundation, to offer some specifics about suicide and support for survivors.

Please give her a warm welcome –

Survivors Of a Loved One’s Suicide (aka SOLOS)

"As anyone who has been close to someone that 
has committed suicide knows, there is no other pain like 
that felt after the incident” 
~~Peter Greene~~

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One’s Suicide Where Do I Start?

If you have lost someone to suicide, the first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Each year, more than 33,000 people in the United States die by suicide.

The devastated family and friends they leave behind are known as Survivors. There are millions of survivors who, like you, are trying to cope with this heartbreaking loss.

Survivors often experience a wide range of grief reactions, including some or all of the following:
  • Shock, you may feel numb or disoriented, and may have trouble concentrating. 
  • Symptoms of depression, including disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, intense sadness, and lack of energy. 
  • Anger toward the deceased, another family member, a therapist, or yourself. 
  • Relief, particularly if the suicide followed a long and difficult mental or physical illness. 
  • Guilt, including thinking, "If only . . . " and "Why"

Although most survivors will tell you that things are never the same, those same survivors will reassure you that you will reach a "new normal" in time. 

Your recovery will be different than someone who has lost someone to a non-suicidal death, so it is very important for you to be patient with the time it will take for your unique recovery process. Go easy on yourself.

Studies show that, although losing a loved one to suicide is definitely a suicide risk factor, survivors who seek counseling and/or participate in a survivor support group are LESS likely than the general population to end their own lives.

Every survivors experience is different and is on an individualized time frame. Just like there are no two finger prints exactly alike, there is no recovery process that is exactly the same. Eventually the most painful feelings will diminish a bit over time, and you will  learn, not “get over it” but “go through it,” coming at of the experience with your new normal. Things don’t really get better, so better not to expect, things just changes with time as we get stronger because of our loss. We will never forget what happened, only learn form it and move on to the new normal we choose today, and every day thereafter.

For more information on support to survivors of a loved one’s suicide, go to  Support Links page and look under Survivor Support. 

For information about suicide call 1 800 SUICIDE to speak to a trained counselor
24/7. Call for yourself or together with a friend or loved one.

Common Myths of Suicide

You, me, we all can make a difference. On this day we remember more people in the world die by suicide than war and murder combined. By taking just five minutes to become informed about suicide you can make a difference.

Suicide is a serious public health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers and communities, as well as on our military personnel and veterans. 

To understand why people die by suicide, and why so many others attempt to take their own lives, it is important to know the facts. To know the facts we must first dispel the all too common myths of suicide.  Once you know that facts, you will feel the confident you can help save lives.

Myth: Suicide can’t be prevented. If someone is set on taking their own life, there is nothing that can be done to stop them.

Fact: Suicide is preventable. The vast majority of people contemplating suicide don’t really want to die. They are seeking an end to intense mental and/or physical pain. Most are suffering from depression a condition of the brain that is treatable. Your Intervention can save a life.

Myth: People who take their own life are selfish, cowards, weak or are just looking for “attention.”

Fact: More than 90% of people who take their own life have at least one and often more than one treatable mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or alcohol and substance abuse. With better recognition and treatment many suicides can be prevented.

Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will put the idea in their head and cause them to act on it.

Fact: When you fear someone you know is in crisis or depressed, asking them if they are thinking about suicide can actually help, often you see them visibly relieved by your honesty and concern. By giving a person an opportunity to open up and share their troubles you can help alleviate their pain and find solutions.

Myth: Teenagers and college students are the most at risk for suicide.

Fact: The suicide rate for this age group is below the national average. Suicide risk increases with age. Currently, the age group with the highest suicide rate in the U.S. is middle-aged men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. The suicide rate is still highest among white men over the age of 65. Depression is does not naturally go along with aging, many older people are depression free and very happy with their lives.

Myth: Barriers on bridges, safe firearm storage and other actions to reduce access to lethal methods of suicide don’t work. People will just find another way.

Fact: Limiting access to lethal methods of suicide is the best strategies for suicide prevention. Many suicides can be impulsive and triggered by an immediate crisis. Separating someone in crisis from a lethal method (e.g., a firearm) can give them something they desperately need: time.  Time to change their mind, time to resolve the crisis, time for someone to intervene, is what we need to help the suicidal person get.

Myth: Someone making suicidal threats won’t really do it, they are just looking for attention.

Fact: Those who talk about suicide or express thoughts about wanting to die, are at risk for suicide and need your attention. Most people who die by suicide give some indication or warning. Take all threats of suicide seriously. Even if you think they are just “crying for help”-a cry for help, is a cry for help-so help. Better to overact than not at all.

Myth: Talk therapy and/or medications don’t work.

Fact: Treatment can work. One of the best ways to prevent suicide is by getting treatment for mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar illness and/or substance abuse and learning ways to solve problems. Finding the best treatment can take some time, and the right treatment can greatly reduce risk of suicide. In fact, it can bring you back your life.

For information about suicide call 1 800 SUICIDE to speak to a trained counselor
24/7. Call for yourself or together with a friend or loved one.

-- Linda Borders Killian, LCSW, MFT

Thank you for visiting this stop on the Suicide Prevention Week – Authors Care Hop. Please make sure to visit the other hosts – each should be giving out a prize. For those commenting on my blog, the winner will have a choice of a book from my backlist.

The grand prize is one (1) $50 gift certificate to Amazon. The winner will be chosen randomly from Rafflecopter entries on Sunday, 9/15/13. Hop stops will be responsible for awarding their own prizes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for participation in such a worthwhile hop.

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