Suicide weighs heavily on friends, family, colleagues

by | Jun 22, 2018 | Behavioral Health

Suicide weighs heavily on friends, family, colleagues

With the recent news of suicide rates spiking in the U.S., this is an important time to help people understand how to cope with such tragic losses.

When someone takes their own life, they can affect many people around them – far beyond their family and friends.

We learned last month the number of people taking their own lives rose 30 per cent in some regions of the country between 1999 and 2016, according to data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide can devastate friends, family, loved ones and colleagues. The impact of these types of deaths affect everyone differently. People feel blamed, while others spiral into self-hatred and depression.

 Partner and children

Suicide has a deep and painful impact on the immediate family. Relatives can become very isolated because of the negative stigma so often associated with this type of death. For spouses, the impact can be devastating, but it is often manifested in a very different way, according to HealthyPlace, a mental health resource.Spouses are sometimes blamed for the suicide by their partners’ family, according to Survivors Of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS), a self-help organization and service for bereaved adults. This blame can cause a partner to feel they weren’t good enough.

 The effects of suicide on parents and children alike are immense. When a child takes their own life, parents are at a higher risk for anxiety and divorce, according to HealthyPlace. Comparatively, when a child’s parent has taken their life, children are at a higher risk of suicide (up to twice as likely, particularly in boys), according to PLOS Medicine, a resource for medical research news.

Extended family and friends

Siblings can feel forgotten and left out of the healing process as their parents try to protect them from grief.Grandparents often experience hidden grief, where they feel they must keep their composure to protect the rest of the family. By doing so, a grandparent can be overlooked for seeking help, according to SOBS.

Friends often start to question the relationship they had with victims of suicide. They can experience feelings of guilt, abandonment, and even anger towards the person, according to The University of Texas at Austin.

Co-workers, colleagues, teachers and clients

You don’t have to be related to or close friends with a victim of suicide. If you knew the person through school or work, you may not understand what circumstances led a person to take their life and worry that you may have been responsible, according to SOBS. Colleagues can find it difficult to work at the same place, and bosses can blame themselves for causing undue stress on an employee.

Teachers, who are responsible for managing several students, can feel they had not done enough to prevent the suicide. A survey among Australian teachers showed that 76 per cent of them feel the suicide of a student affected their personal life, while 85 per cent said it had affected their professional life, according to J Affect Disord.

Having a support system of family, friends and professional counselling is important. Giving a suicide survivor time to heal and to have the option to talk about a suicide when ready is important, according to The University of Texas at Austin. Having a support system and professional counselling are important when grieving the death of a loved one.

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