Suicide is often reduced to statistics to give people a general sense of the scale of the problem. But statistics can’t possibly illustrate the toll of each individual loss.
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, you are intimately familiar with the devastating and complex impact felt by surviving friends and family.
Your loved one’s death may have left you feeling lost and confused, unsure of where to turn for answers. As you and those around you struggle to come to terms with the loss, it can be difficult to know what to do or how to feel.
There is no right answer for how you should be feeling following the suicide of someone close to you. Grief is complex, and it’s rare that any two people will experience it in the same way. Just know that whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay.
Accepting your grief and allowing yourself to feel it is easier said than done, but there are things that can help. Here are a few things that may help in your grieving process.
The most common question that survivors of suicide come to is “Why did this happen?”
After a loved one’s suicide it can be easy in your search for answers to begin blaming yourself.
You may wonder what you could have done to prevent this outcome or you might feel guilt over signs you may have missed. You may find yourself wondering why your support wasn’t enough to keep them around.
The truth of the matter is that suicide is complicated with no singular explanation for why it happens. However, a framing that may help you understand is this: At the end of all things, your loved one died of an illness.
Most, if not all, victims of suicide suffer from an acute mental illness that contributed to the decision to end their life.
Mental illness can severely distort a person’s perception of their importance in the world and the care of those around them. Your loved one did not choose to become ill, and they would not have chosen to end their life had their illness not been pushing them to do so.
Mental illness is treatable just as cancer is treatable—but some people still succumb to their cancer even with treatment, while others recover and go on to live for years.
You do not need to wonder why your efforts weren’t enough or what you could have done better. In the end, succumbing to their illness requires no more blame than if they had died from a heart attack.
Understanding this will not make the loss hurt any less, but it may help to reconcile some of the confusion so you can grieve more peacefully.
There is no timetable on grief, so it’s impossible to say how long it will take for your life to begin to feel normal again.
There are, however, some things you can do to aid in your recovery process and ensure you are on the best possible path toward healing:
At the heart of all of these is connection with other people. You are not required or expected to do this alone. While you may occasionally need some time to yourself to process, it is support and connection with others that will be the most help in getting you through this difficult time.
After a traumatic loss, the idea of moving on can be scary. If you’re struggling with the transition, volunteering your time to a cause dedicated to preventing suicide and supporting survivors like you can help to ease some of the guilt and fear.
There may still be bumpy roads ahead. Grief is complicated and can come in waves. However, as you start feeling a little more whole you will be able to give yourself permission to begin living again.
Suicide is a difficult topic most people prefer to avoid altogether. Our societal aversion to the topic means most people don’t know what they need to do if the unthinkable happens.
Unfortunately, in spite of the best efforts of many, suicide happens. This leaves surviving loved ones to navigate a confusing and difficult healing and cleanup process.
Many resources offering help following suicide launch right into how to cope with grief. But if you are still in the phase of trying to manage the logistics, you may be looking for different information.
As a biohazard cleanup company, our work at Bio-One often involves families coping with the loss of a loved one to suicide. Because of this, we strive to do our part to help by providing some helpful information for navigating this difficult time.
If you are here because you need information, it’s likely you’ve already contacted emergency services about the death. After the police, coroner, and/or medical examiner have released the scene and your loved one’s body has been transported to a medical facility there are a few things that need to happen next:
Suicide cleanup is a job that should be entrusted to professionals. If you are currently in the position of needing to arrange for cleanup, please contact Bio-One right away at 303-625-6543.
We have all the equipment and expertise needed for the job, and we will treat the scene, the situation, and any belongings with respect and care. We will also help you to get the insurance process underway to get cleaning costs covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Through this difficult and traumatic time, this is the last thing you should have on your plate. We are here to help.
Even though you are not participating in the cleaning itself, understanding what’s involved can be an important part of the grieving process. Some people may need to know exactly what is involved in cleaning up the scene.
The time required for a clean-up and the extent of what’s required can vary depending on how much bio-matter is left at the scene and how long the body was there. Bio-One has a tried-and-true process to restore the scene to a safe and habitable state in a way that is both thorough and respectful.
Our process is as follows:
We hope these details will help to take some weight off your mind during this difficult time so you can focus on any preparations you need to make.
With cleaning out of the way, your remaining responsibilities may focus on informing family and friends and/or making funeral arrangements. Be sure to take care of your own mental health as you take the next steps. You are going through something very painful, but hopefully the help from your family, friends, loved ones, and community will ease some of the stress.
Bio-One is here for you as you weather this tragic time. We hope our service will help ease your burden. Though the circumstances may be difficult, we are honored to be a part of your community at this incredibly challenging time.
One of the most difficult parts about realizing you may be suicidal is feeling like you can’t talk to anyone about it.
Whether out of shame, or fear of how a loved one will react to finding out, reaching out to someone you know for help can be incredibly paralyzing. This sense of isolation can be dangerous, especially in moments of crisis.
In these discouraging and frightening moments, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is there.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a free resource anyone experiencing a crisis can contact for help.
The Lifeline connects people with skilled crisis counselors who listen and provide immediate support to guide you through the worst of your distress. They can also refer you to resources to help you keep yourself safe in the long term.
The Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as part of its ongoing mission to reduce suicide rates nationwide.
They work with many local and government suicide prevention organizations to extend their reach everywhere in the United States.
Contacting the Lifeline is as simple as calling or texting 988.
The 988 Lifeline is for anyone who is thinking about suicide, concerned for a friend or loved one, or just in need of emotional support. This means you can call, text, or chat even if you are struggling but not yet in crisis.
People call the Lifeline for any number of reasons:
These are just a few concerns that may prompt someone to call, but they should illustrate that you don’t need to wait until you’re in severe distress to call.
988 is a crisis service, but not an emergency service. This means if you are in emotional distress but aren’t yet in danger, it is the right time to call. 988 counselors are well-trained in methods to help you steer out of an emotional spiral and ground yourself.
If you or the person you are helping is in immediate danger of harming themselves, call 911 right away.
There are a few different ways you can contact the 988 Lifeline depending on your needs. You can call or send a text to 988, or you can chat with a counselor online at 988lifeline.org. Help is available in English or Spanish, and there are additional options for ASL speakers.
Depending on how you choose to contact the Lifeline, here is what you can expect from the process:
If you call…
You will be greeted by an automated message and a phone tree. If you are a veteran, you can press 1 to be directed to the Veteran Crisis Line. For help in Spanish, you can press 2. Otherwise, you can remain on the line and you will be placed on a brief hold while you are connected to a counselor.
If you text…
After you send a text to 988 requesting help, you will receive a short survey to let the counselor know a little about your situation. After you respond, the text line will connect you to your counselor who will instruct you further.
If you chat…
Similar to the text line, you will receive a short survey asking about your situation so your counselor knows how to help. There will be a short wait time while you are connected, and then your counselor will instruct you further.
Regardless of how you reach out, once you are connected to a counselor, they will listen to your problems and ask you questions to figure out the best way to help you. If needed, they may offer you steps to help you interrupt a panic attack or work your way out of a thought spiral.
Counselors may also walk you through some steps to keep yourself safe until the crisis has passed. Once they have seen to your immediate needs, they may direct you to resources online or in your community to help you find ongoing care for your mental health concerns.
The 988 Lifeline is always free and always confidential, so you never need to worry about reaching out.
Suicide is on the rise and is one of the leading causes of death in our country, but it can be prevented. The 988 Lifeline is making huge strides in prevention efforts by providing people a place to turn when they feel hopeless.
Studies have shown that almost 98% of people who contact the 988 Lifeline are able to work through their crisis without needing emergency services. Having somebody to talk to can make all the difference.
Whether it’s yourself or a loved one, a suicidal crisis can be a scary thing to navigate. That’s why we at Bio-One hope this guide will help you know how to intervene to keep yourself or the people you love safe.
Part of our mission is to provide community resources. That’s why we dedicate so much of our time to projects like this. We want to create a future where we never have to answer another suicide call again.