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On the other hand, the act may seem like an assault on or rejection of those left behind. So the feelings of anger, rejection, and abandonment that occur after many deaths are especially intense and difficult to sort out after a suicide.

Need for reason. What if we'd gone to a doctor sooner? What if we hadn't let her drive to the basketball game?

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After a suicide, these questions may be extreme and self-punishing — unrealistically condemning the survivor for failing to predict the death or to intervene effectively or on time. Experts tell us that in such circumstances, survivors tend to greatly overestimate their own contributing role — and their ability to affect the outcome. Many survivors need to conduct a psychological "autopsy," finding out as much as they can about the circumstances and factors leading to the suicide, in order to develop a narrative that makes sense to them. While doing this, they can benefit from the help of professionals or friends who are willing to listen — without attempting to supply answers — even if the same questions are asked again and again.

Sometimes a person with a disabling or terminal disease chooses suicide as a way of gaining control or hastening the end. When a suicide can be understood that way, survivors may feel relieved of much of their what-if guilt.

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It doesn't mean someone didn't love their life. The grieving process may be very different than after other suicides. A risk for survivors. People who've recently lost someone through suicide are at increased risk for thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide. After any loss of a loved one, it's not unusual to wish you were dead; that doesn't mean you'll act on the wish. But if these feelings persist or grow more intense, confide in someone you trust, and seek help from a mental health professional.

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Research suggests that suicide survivors find individual counseling see "Getting professional help" and suicide support groups to be particularly helpful. There are many general grief support groups, but those focused on suicide appear to be much more valuable. On the other hand, it can be helpful for parents to be in a group where they hear from people who have lost a sibling — they may learn more about what it's like for their other children," says Dr.

Some support groups are facilitated by mental health professionals; others by laypersons. If you go and feel comfortable and safe — feel that you can open up and won't be judged — that's probably more important than whether the group is led by a professional or a layperson. Lay leaders of support groups are often themselves suicide survivors; many are trained by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

  • NIMH » Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder;
  • Group: Six People in Search of a Life by Paul Solotaroff.
  • Group: Six People in Search of a Life.

For those who don't have access to a group or feel uncomfortable meeting in person, Internet support groups are a growing resource. You can join a support group at any time: soon after the death, when you feel ready to be social, or even long after the suicide if you feel you could use support, perhaps around a holiday or an anniversary of the death. Suicide survivors are more likely than other bereaved people to seek the help of a mental health professional.

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Look for a skilled therapist who is experienced in working with grief after suicide. The therapist can support you in many ways, including these:. Immediately after the suicide, assistance from a mental health professional may be particularly beneficial if you experience any of the following:. Knowing what to say or how to help after a death is always difficult, but don't let fear of saying or doing the wrong thing prevent you from reaching out to suicide survivors. Don't hold back. Just as you would after any other death, express your concern, pitch in with practical tasks, and listen to whatever the person wants to tell you.

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Here are some special considerations:. Stay close. I like to help people feel less alone in whatever they might be struggling with. However, if I'm completely honest, personal examples are usually the easiest for me to think of and help me write faster and have more flow when I'm writing. When there's something we naturally do, we might barely notice it's a strength until someone points it out. You simply might not be able to imagine being any other way.

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Here's where psychology is full of paradoxes and apparent contradictions. On the surface, the point I'm making here is the opposite of the one I just made, but it's not really. If we find something very difficult, we also find it hard to credit ourselves with it as a strength. Our implicit internal process goes What types of things spring to mind when you think about the concept of strengths?

If you're too hard on yourself, here's why.

If you're frustrated that you don't have more of a particular quality, that will likely come easily to mind as a strength you lack. Think of the concept of strengths much more broadly.

How do you get yourself to do things you'd rather avoid or put off? Another important category of strengths relates to thinking processes. If you find yourself ruminating or worrying , how do you cope with that, without letting it derail you? Could you consider these strengths? Go beyond personality traits when you're contemplating your strengths. A point I mention in my book, The Healthy Mind Toolkit , is that our strengths and our weaknesses are often two sides of the same coin. View or edit your browsing history. Back to top. Get to Know Us.

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