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Coping with Suicide continued

If someone you love commits suicide or attempts it, your first reaction will probably be denial. This provides a cushion for your grief. Eventually, it will be necessary for you to admit the truth and purpose to rebuild your life. In the process of healing you will need to ask yourself how you feel about what happened. Ask yourself:

  •if you hate the person who died or attempted suicide;

  •if so, do you want to hate them or does the feeling seem beyond your control; and

  •what will happen to you and significant others in your life if you continue to hate?


After identifying your feelings, determine if there are external or internal conflicts that need to be resolved. Talk through your feelings with a trusted friend, pastor or therapist. This will help to explain your feelings, define what is/was going on, and release pent-up emotional pressure. Talking the matter through may help you to understand why your loved one tried to take, or took, their own life. You will come to realize that you were not the only one hurt. This will help you begin to understand that the victim didn’t really want to die, they just wanted relief from suffering. It may feel like the victim rejected the people they loved, but in most cases, they loved the people they rejected.


Survivors must be very careful not to get caught in the downward slide of self pity because it can degenerate into rage, bitterness and depression, or even explode into acts of violence. To avoid the trap of self pity, make a cognitive decision to embrace life, and begin to set appropriate short and long-term goals aimed at rebuilding your life and creating a fulfilling future.


Another helpful tactic is to become thoroughly informed about the topic of suicide. A word of caution . . . don’t allow yourself to become obsessed with this literature. Read only to be informed and determine not to dwell on it.


One way of using what you’ve learned in a healthy fashion is by concentrating on helping others who have been wounded by suicide or attempted suicide. Remember that no victim of suicide dies alone nor does a suicide attempt leave the lives of significant others unscarred.


Get involved in a local grief group. This will not only give you a channel to resolve your own pain, but it will allow you to provide help and support for others who are grieving. If indicated, get involved in counseling as a family so that you can work together to resolve the confusion and pain generated by a suicide or an attempted suicide.



Coleman, William L. (1979).  Understanding suicide. Elgin, IL: David C. Cook Publishing Co.

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