How does suicide affect friends and family members?

Suicide is often extremely traumatic for the friends and family members that remain (the survivors), even though people that attempt suicide often think that no-one cares about them.

In addition to the feelings of grief normally associated with a person's death, there may be guilt, anger, resentment, remorse, confusion and great distress over unresolved issues.

The stigma surrounding suicide can make it extremely difficult for survivors to deal with their grief and can cause them also to feel terribly isolated. Survivors often find that people relate differently to them after the suicide, and may be very reluctant to talk about what has happened for fear of condemnation.

They often feel like a failure because someone they cared so much about has chosen to suicide, and may also be fearful of forming any new relationships because of the intense pain they have experienced through the relationship with the person who has completed suicide.

People who have experienced the suicide of someone they cared deeply about can benefit from "survivor groups", where they can relate to people who have been through a similar experience, and know they will be accepted without being judged or condemned.

Most counselling services should be able to refer people to groups in their local area. Survivor groups, counselling and other appropriate help can be of tremendous assistance in easing the intense burden of unresolved feelings that suicide survivors often carry.