Survivors of Suicide- A Grief Like No Other

Pastors and care-givers have the terribly isolating experience of surviving a parishioner, friend or family member who has taken their own life. I found the following advice from former NFL quarterback Eric Hipple:

"It's hard to describe [the pain of suicide] unless you have been close to someone who did commit suicide. That's why those of us who have been through this need to help each other. And please, if you think about suicide, go see a psychologist or a doctor. Get some treatment. Don't wait."

Don't try to reason with someone who is in clinical depression and making suicidal statements or threats. They're in that place because their thinking is compromised. For spiritual care givers, it maybe helpful to report your concerns to the next of kin and/or the physician(s) who is responsible for the care plan. This can be done in the best interests of a person who has come to see you for help, even while you honor the confidentiality and trust of a parishioner by asking for their permission to act on their behalf.

Sometimes we see why suicide runs in families. That's explained, in part, because mental illness is a family and not just a personal problem. The grief of surviving a suicide is so painful that suicide is sometimes seen as the only way out. At the same time, seeing how suicide harms everyone involved may help to limit an at- risk person's suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Another option is 72 hour observation in a hospital. Although that is temporary, the truth is that being taken into police custody to a safe place may be what is called for. No one will say that such an experience is pleasant at all. But they may still be living to talk about it.

For survivors, some crisis hot lines also partner with support groups, where you can can break through the isolation and loneliness of grieving this loss. Making contact with other survivors can be one of several healing things you can do for yourself and others who share your journey.

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