How to be a grief ally to someone bereaved by suicide

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Grief is a particularly hard thing to experience, however when we lose someone to them taking their own life it can feel even more challenging. The stigma still attached to suicide can make people feel isolated. Often they’re unable to communicate their grief and can internalise their emotions and experiences for fear of reaction and rejection. It’s important for us all to understand how to communicate with someone who has suffered a loss to suicide. Being able to hold space for our friends, families, colleagues and the many people affected by suicide, is important to help those who need support.

Tip 1

Don’t push for details

It is not okay to ask for details on how someone ended their life or the circumstances around it, this is very intrusive. Be a support not a journalist. This information should only ever be voluntarily shared.

Tip 2

Resolve never to ask why

Loved ones are often unlikely to know exactly why the person they loved chose to take their own life. Suicide is complex and many factors can influence their decision, and there are often no clear warning signs.

Tip 3

Be mindful of language

As our understanding of suicide evolves, the way we talk about it must as well. Choosing the right language helps to reduce stigma and supports those bereaved by suicide.

Tip 4

Talk about how they lived

Help them celebrate the life that person led and the mark they made on the world. If you have any photographs of their loved one now is a good time to share them, you could even put them into a frame or make a video.

Tip 5

Acknowledge what has happened

Death by suicide, even more than other types of bereavement, can make people feel uncomfortable and unsure of how to react.  Grief is isolating and even though it’s hard make sure you acknowledge what has happened. Be persistent, but thoughtful and patient.

Tip 6

Let them share

When someone opens up, listen actively and respond in an encouraging way. It takes a long time to take in what has happened and it’s perfectly normal for someone to want to talk about it over and over.

Tip 7

Find out what support is available

Our meetings: Find out more

We understand that grief and mental health are complicated and often isolating, which is why we have a range of meetings for all people. Search through our meetings to find one that you feel you would be most comfortable in.

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