Surviving suicide loss

For the person you lost, the pain is over. Now is the time to start healing yours.

A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide, Jeffrey Jackson

I discovered the term ‘survivor of suicide loss’ only when I lost my husband to suicide last year. Until then, death by suicide was something that happened to others. It happened in other families. Not in mine. People who died of suicide were faceless, nameless statistics. However, all these defenses crumbled when I had to confront the staggering reality of my loss.

A survivor of suicide loss is someone who has lost a person dear to them to suicide. A close family member, a dear friend, colleague or a health care professional (notably mental health professional) could at any point be a survivor of suicide loss.

You are a ‘survivor of suicide’, and as that unwelcome designation implies, your survival —your emotional survival — will depend on how well you learn to cope with your tragedy. The bad news: Surviving this will be the second worst experience,” writes Jeffrey Jackson, a survivor of suicide loss, in A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide.

Suicide, as we all know, is an intentional self-inflicted death. Edwin Shneidman, the pioneering suicidologist, vividly describes suicide as “psych ache” or intense psychological pain. Not surprisingly, mental health issues have been identified as a predisposing factor in 90 percent of deaths by suicide. According to the American Association of Suicidology, “the primary goal of a suicide is not to end life, but to end pain.” 

The statistics are indeed grim.

  • Globally, 800,000 people die of suicide every year
  • Every 40 seconds someone in the world dies of suicide
  • Every 41 seconds someone is left to make sense of it
  • Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan
  • It’s the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally. 
  • The suicide mortality rate in India is 15.7  people per 100,000, and the regional average 12.9 (WHO 2015-17)

Death and the resulting emotion grief — the loss of someone we love — are universal experiences. However, a death by suicide, has been described as a death like no other. Suicide, like death by accidents, murder (homicide) and even unanticipated sudden death, is another form of traumatic death. However, death by suicide does not elicit the same level of compassion and empathy in people to support the bereavement process. This huge empathy deficit makes a survivor of suicide loss feel isolated and excluded.

The American Psychiatry Association (APA), says suicide bereavement is “catastrophic” and on par with a concentration camp experience. According to the APA, family members of individuals who die by suicide — including parents, children, and siblings — are at increased risk of suicide – almost 400 times higher than others.

Survivors of suicide loss are invisible and marginalised. They often encounter blame, judgment or social exclusion, while mourners of loved ones who have died from terminal illness, accident, old age or other kinds of deaths usually receive sympathy and compassion. Thus, grief and the grieving process for survivors of suicide loss is complex and complicated. It is compounded by negative societal attitudes based on stigma, shame, secrecy and silence around suicide. This is because we tend to view suicide through a morality lens rather than a public health crisis and mental health issue, which it truly is.

“It’s strange how we would never blame a family member for a loved one’s cancer or Alzheimer’s, but society continues to cast a shadow on a loved one’s suicide,” writes Deborah Serani in Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss.

There is a strong sense of shame associated with suicide. Most survivors of suicide loss prefer not talk about suicide; of someone who died by suicide. We are deeply ashamed to admit this. Instead, we tend to create ‘acceptable’ explanations of the cause of death that we choose to tell others. If a loved one dies of suicide and someone asks us about the cause of death, we often tend to say, “It was a heart attack” or some other ‘natural’ cause of death that is socially acceptable.

We do not seek to glorify suicide; nor do we condemn it. People who die of suicide are not heroes; nor cowards; nor criminals. Suicide is not a crime. It is a public health crisis. It is a mental health issue that is treatable and preventable.

Such informed perspectives can change conversations on suicide and also ensure supportive spaces for survivors of suicide loss to rebuild their lives.

Dr Nandini Murali is a communications and gender and diversity professional. A recent survivor of suicide loss, she established SPEAK, an initiative of MS Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, Madurai, to change conversations on suicide and promote mental health.

These are not my words, in any way. I am a suicide loss survivor. This year marks 21 years. I am still struggling. While looking for resources I stumbled across this and found it very in touch with reality. Even if this link does not give you the sources you need to heal, please keep searching. Keep working. Keep healing. In whatever way you can.

Scars in Heaven

If I had only known the last time would be the last time
I would’ve put off all the things I had to do
I would’ve stayed a little longer, held on a little tighter
Now what I’d give for one more day with you
‘Cause there’s a wound here in my heart where something’s missing
And they tell me that it’s gonna heal with time
But I know you’re in a place where all your wounds have been erased
And knowing yours are healed is healing mine
The only scars in heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in heaven are on the hands that hold you now
I know the road you walked was anything but easy
You picked up your share of scars along the way
Oh, but now you’re standing in the sun, you’ve fought your fight and your race is run
The pain is all a million miles away
The only scars in heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in heaven, yeah, are on the hands that hold you now
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, for the hands that hold you now
There’s not a day goes by that I don’t see you
You live on in all the better parts of me
Until I’m standing with you in the sun, I’ll fight this fight and this race I’ll run
Until I finally see what you can see, oh-oh
The only scars in heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in heaven are on the hands that hold you now


Scars in Heaven

Casting Crowns

In case we have forgotten

The meaning of TRUST

reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
confident expectation of something; hope.
confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit:
to sell merchandise on trust.

Law. of or relating to trusts or a trust.

~verb (used without object)
to rely upon or place confidence in someone or something (usually followed by in or to):
to trust in another's honesty; trusting to luck.
to have confidence; hope:
Things work out if one only trusts.

I blinked

Growing up I had a very hard time connecting with other girls. I was one of the boys thru and thru. Don’t get me wrong, I had a few close girl friends that I considered my best friends. However, I always felt a little on edge with them compared to the ease I felt when I was with guys.

As I hit upper grade school and high school timing this became worse since I felt like every single time I opened up to a female she would use that against me in some way. Sometimes just by taking what I said in confidence and blabbing it to the class. Other times it was more descreet, more like a slow manipulation of information that they know used against me to make me do what they want. I am not positive if I did the same to them or not. There are times that come to mind that have the potential to land in that category but as I am looking and justifying it to myself, I obviously have to accept the rose colored glasses theory.

As an adult, I CRAVE the women to women connection. I need to have girl talks, where they can understand me completely in regard to things I am dealing with. I need to speak to other wives or long term girlfriends that can face similar relationship speed bumps. Same for any woman raising kids of any age. I know that every one goes through stages like this in life so I don’t feel like this is strange at all.

I love connecting with single or divorced women that have been through things that I haven’t. I love talking to new moms, learning the new path that they are on just as much as I love talking to woman who are enjoying retirements, freedom to travel and possible grandbabies. I love them all.

When the hell did this switch?

Side note: I still find myself just as talkative and comfortable being around guys, unless I like them in which I will be insanely awkward.

Empty your pockets

I was speaking to my Dad the other afternoon and he said something that sent my mind on a tail spin.

There are days in my life that it becomes glaringly obvious that I have too much in my pockets.

He didn’t mean my literal pockets either. In the greater scheme of things everyone of us can admit that if we put too many things in our pockets, it weighs the pants down right?

We can try a belt for a little while. However that will only work until the belt gets to strained and breaks. In the meantime, it’s awkward to walk and it leads to you holding your body different to counteract the weight.

The pockets are a metaphor for your to do list.

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you have signed up to do until it get’s too overwhelming. I am royalty in this regard. I refuse to crown myself as the queen because there are so many of us that excel greatly here.

I love helping people, in any way that I can. That means that I volunteer for random things for people that would not do the same thing for me. I do things around the house without asking my husband and kids for help too much. (Of course, this is also because it doesn’t matter how many times I have asked they never seem to do it without me yelling and screaming. It seems like such a waste of my time so much that I just bypass the stress and do it myself.) (That’s a completely different talking point however, so I am not letting myself get stuck there).

The real thing is that it has given me a new way to look at my lists of things to do. There isn’t many people who enjoy constantly full pockets. I am not one of them. I like a steady stream of things in my pockets, every day. Not overly full.

Empty out your pockets folks.

Folks, this is real.

I would like to take a moment and say I am sorry to those that have been affected by Hurricane Ida and her remnants as she rips across the country. This has been devastating to learn the extent.

In the same moment I hear they are now evacuating more and more people in the California fires. If only we could use the much NEEDED water on the entire west coast. Between the drying up water spots from Colorado to New Mexico and these fire riddled areas.

This continues to prove to me that climate change is real folks. It doesn’t matter what President is in office or the verbage he/she speaks. It doesn’t matter which party they affiliate with. Its cold hard science that proves the climate change has everything to do with the growth of these problems. Take the politics out.

This isn’t just America either. It is everywhere.

Time to make sure we do our part. If anyone has any tips or sites to share about climate change and the things we can do please share.