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Losing a loved one under any circumstance is difficult, but it can be especially hard when suicide is involved. Sadly, more than 40,000 people complete suicide annually in the United States. It’s also heartbreakingly common amongst members of the military, where veterans are at 50% higher risk of suicide compared to their non-serving peers..
Many who attempt or complete suicide are struggling with mental illness or addiction, so efforts to prevent suicide are often tied to the care and treatment of mental health. However it’s not always easy due to the stigma and misunderstandings surrounding mental illness that is prevalent in today’s society.
So today, Dr. Ally shares some tips on suicide prevention, as well as how to cope with the loss of a loved one.
Helping your surviving loved ones overcome the pain
Those who have lost someone they care about to suicide may react in all kinds of ways, and unfortunately, some are so devastated that they can’t imagine living any longer. Not everyone makes their feelings known and many even try to hide them, either because they are in denial about what they are feeling or they don’t think anyone or anything can help.
If you suspect someone close to you is considering suicide, then you need to pay attention to warning signs like reckless behavior, changes in mood, drug or alcohol usage, withdrawing or isolating themselves, or expressing depressive thoughts like feeling hopeless or being a burden for others. You can offer help through major resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the Action Alliance, and local resources like support groups and counseling.
For those in the military, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers specific resources for veterans, those on active duty or in the reserves, and family members and friends of military members. There is also the Veterans Crisis Line, which is available online and via phone, and non-profit aid groups like Stop Soldier Suicide that are available for those struggling with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts.
There is also the option of support groups, both online and offline, that are available with a little bit of research. All of these can help a person, regardless of if they are struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings or if their loved one is, and can be used in times of emergency or crisis.
Allowing yourself time and support to heal
Should a person complete suicide, regardless of the circumstances, there are options to help their loved ones with the situation. It’s hard, and often doesn’t make any sense. Right now all of that pain, grief, and anger you have feels like it’s going to swallow you whole, and it’s really tempting to let it. But it won’t feel that way forever, not always. You don’t have to bottle it up, and there are people and resources available to help you.
Many of the resources listed above that provide information and help for preventing suicide also have information and help for those who’ve lost someone to suicide. For instance the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which operates the National Lifeline above, offers current and up-to-date material and resources available nationally for survivors.
If you feel compelled, one therapeutic option is to establish a nonprofit in your loved one’s memory. This can allow you to honor their memory through charitable fundraising and giving.
There are support group message boards and chat rooms to meet just about any criteria, as well as online bereavement programsthat can help you work through your grief in a healthy way. Reaching out for this kind of support can help you process what has happened and help you discover how to talk about or explainit to loved ones, especially children. There are also online forums and social media groups where you can talk with others who have lost a loved one to suicide. Some are specific, e.g. for those who’ve lost a spouse/partner to suicide or for veterans and their families.
Even if you just need a safe spot or a soundboard to vent your feelings, you should never feel afraid to reach out in your time of need. The pain of losing your loved one to suicide will never subside completely, but it also won’t feel overwhelming forever. Be kind to yourself, seek support, and find the light through this dark time.
Whether we are working to align with your true purpose, shift your perspective of the world, or build the confidence and strategy to start your own business, Dr. Ally will collaboratively with you to begin winning life's little battles. Let’s schedule a consultation!