Finding Support After a Suicide Loss

“Nothing makes one feel so strong as a call for help.”

Pope Paul VI

Because suicide loss is a unique trauma, when you lose someone to suicide, the healing process is different than healing from other losses. According to an article on the National Institute of Health website,

“The feelings of loss, sadness, and loneliness experienced after any death of a loved one are often magnified in suicide survivors by feelings of guilt, confusion, rejection, shame, anger, and the effects of stigma and trauma. Furthermore, survivors of suicide loss are at higher risk of developing major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal behaviors, as well as a prolonged form of grief called complicated grief.”

You may be feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to begin to find support. Fortunately, there are many resources available to you. Here are some ways to get started:

Support Organizations

A great place to find support if you have lost someone to suicide is The Alliance of Hope. Founded by Ronnie Walker after her step-son died by suicide, Alliance of Hope is dedicated to helping survivors of suicide loss find the support they need to heal from their trauma. 

Another place to find support is the  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.This organization provides help for people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts as well as support for those who have recently lost a loved one to suicide. They also have a once you’re out of the darkness walk which raises money for suicide awareness. 

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) is a national organization that offers grief support for suicide loss survivors. Via their website they provide information about how to cope with the loss, as well as stories of hope in which loss survivors share their stories of their journey through grief. 

Find Others Who Have Experienced Your Loss

As I have stated on my website Healing from Depression, one of the three pillars of mental health recovery is to reach out for support. We are not meant to heal in isolation but in community. No matter how you choose to deal with your grief, you do not have to cope with your loss alone. Particularly as a suicide loss survivor, I recommend finding others who have experienced a loss like yours. 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers a call center staffed with volunteers with whom you can talk. They are suicide loss survivors themselves so will likely have a keen understanding of what you are going through. The foundation also offers connections to support groups offered to suicide loss survivors – a  modality that can be very effective in helping you navigate the overwhelming feelings that come with this kind of loss. 

In addition, the Alliance of  Hope hosts a community forum that functions as an online support group. Unlike monthly support groups that exist for suicide survivors, this forum offers 24 hours a day, seven days a week support. Hosting thousands of members, the forum is supervised by a mental health professional and moderated by a trained team of loss survivors. Here you will find other people who understand exactly what you are going through. 

Finally, the organization SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) offers a directory of suicide support groups around the country.

Get Professional Help

When most people experience emotional pain or trauma, they often seek out a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or licensed professional counselor. This is what I would normally recommend. Because suicide loss is a unique trauma, it is very important to find a professional who is specifically trained in working with loss survivors. The Alliance of Hope has a specific page called counseling and consultations. They offer in-house counseling as well as information on what to look for in a mental health professional.  

Another resource is the Find a Therapist page on the Psychology Today website. If you type in your zip code, you will be led to a page that has a list of counselors and therapists where you live. You can then use their filter to find specific therapists that are trained in treating trauma, PTSD, and complicated grief.

Losing a loved one to suicide is a devastating experience. Fortunately, these and other resources are available that will help you cope with the traumatic after-effects of your loss. No matter how badly you may be feeling right now, your pain is not forever, and as you reach out for help, you will find healing and recovery.