Bereavement after suicide

Understanding how and why bereavement by suicide is different to other bereavements can be helpful.

The grieving process is often complicated and lasts longer sometimes many years after the death. A death by suicide is usually sudden, often unexpected and may be violent. The shock and trauma may be greater compared to other types of bereavement, and people may struggle to make sense of what has happened often asking ‘why did the person take their life?’ and ‘could I have prevented it?’. They may experience intense emotions which may be unfamiliar, frightening and uncontrollable including guilt, shame, rejection, and fear. They may also experience physical reactions such as stomach pains, sleeplessness and poor concentration. Some people may struggle with post-traumatic stress and have flashbacks or nightmares, especially if they found the deceased’s body.

There is still a stigma attached to suicide centred around weakness, blame, shame, and crime. Suicide can cause people to feel uncomfortable and unsure about how to react. This can prevent those who need it from seeking help, and others from offering support. Most people bereaved by suicide feel isolated. Others may not know what to say for fear of upsetting them, and this can be perceived as uncaring. The bereaved person may avoid contact because they worry about upsetting other people, or about having to answer difficult questions such as ‘how did they die?’. Family can be a great source of support, yet for some they can be a source of tension and conflict adding to the hurt and isolation.

When someone dies by suicide it can be difficult to maintain privacy. There may be emergency services and police at the scene, interest from the media, and a coroner’s inquest. The inquest process can be lengthy, it will be open to the public and can result in media reporting. Investigations may reveal information about the bereaved person which was unknown to their family and friends.

Buckinghamshire Mind’s Suicide Bereavement Support Service

We provide practical and emotional support to anyone regardless of age, their relationship to the deceased or how long ago the loss occurred. We will work with families, groups, whole communities or individuals who reside in Buckinghamshire (excluding Milton Keynes).

Some examples of how we may be able to help are by giving you space and time to talk, listening to you, going for walks, going with you to appointments, speaking to others on your behalf and liaising with other organisations such as police, coroners and supporting through an inquest.

The help we offer is person-centred, so tailored to individual needs. There is no minimum length of support, we can provide one phone call right through to months of support. We do not provide counselling but can signpost/ help to facilitate this. There is no fee to pay and the support is confidential. You can end the support at any time.

The contact can be anywhere you feel most comfortable and at a time and method that works for you. Anyone can refer themselves for suicide bereavement support or you can ask someone to do it on your behalf as long as you have given your permission. Referrals can be completed over the phone or via the link on the service webpage.

To find out more about this service, please click here.

Useful Contacts

Cruse Buckinghamshire: crusebucks.org.uk

Daisy’s Dream: daisysdream.org.uk

Samaritans Chilterns: samaritans.org/branches/chiltern-samaritans

S.O.B.S ( Survivors of Bereavement after Suicide): uksobs.org

Suicide Bereavement Support Service: bucksmind.org.uk/services/suicidebereavementsupport

Support After Suicide: supportaftersuicide.org.uk

The Child Bereavement trust: childbereavementuk.org

Hectors House: hectorshouse.org.uk

Winston’s Wish: winstonswish.org

Suicide Bereavement UK: suicidebereavementuk.com

Suicide Bereavement Network: sbnwk.org.uk

Help is at hand (support after suicide): nhs.uk/Livewell/Suicide/Documents/Help is at Hand.pdf

The Coroners’ Courts Support Service: coronerscourtssupportservice.org.uk