Suicide in the family

Suicide in the family is deeply upsetting; facing and handling it takes time and energy. One should keep in mind that suicide is always the desperate solution of an individual, and that not every suicide can be prevented. Suicide in the family usually results in a traumatic crisis and facing and handling it usually takes more time than in the event of natural death. At the beginning, it can be difficult to believe the suicide really took place. Death by suicide is very hard to accept.

When someone close commits suicide, the minds of those left behind are filled with difficult feelings. Feelings of guilt in particular can be very strong. The suicide of a loved one may also bring on feelings of shame and anger. Nevertheless, unbearable grief usually remains as the strongest feeling, as well as the slowly developing understanding that life has been irreversibly changed.

Suicide in the family can unite but also separate the ones left behind. People grieve and handle crises in different ways, and these differences could lead to confusion and sometimes conflicts. While some may become paralysed and therefore seem relatively calm, others may begin to blame others, bury their grief in action or try to help others instead of focusing on their own recovery. It is important to understand that there is not one right way to grieve. However, one should never attempt to drown sorrow in alcohol or other substances.

In addition to different ways of grieving, people also have different ways of coping. Most people feel the need to talk about what has happened and go through the event through talking, others wish to reason in their own privacy, and some find action – exercise, painting or writing, for example – helpful in their recovery. People usually draw their resources from many different sources. People work through the experience through feelings, thoughts, beliefs, values, knowledge or even physical sensations. Little by little, they build for a new future.

The family and friends of a person who committed suicide have the right to a good future. They are likely to never forget the incident but it is possible to get over it to the extent that life feels good again. Once enough time has passed after the incident and it has been dealt with properly, people say they have regained, sometimes even doubled, their strength and will to live. Until this happens, the family and friends of a person who committed suicide have the right to accept all possible help, to grieve in their own way and to experience joy, whenever possible. 

The following organisations offer support and help for the families and friends of someone who committed suicide 

SOS Crisis Centre 

The SOS Crisis Centre organises early rehabilitation courses, free of charge, for the families and friends of people who committed suicide. Some of the courses are organised nationwide. The purpose of the rehabilitation courses is to prevent the prolongation of grief and to promote recovery by sharing experiences with other people who have also lost a loved one to suicide. The SOS Crisis Centre may also be used to make an appointment with a crisis worker or the crisis hotline may be called. 

Local Crisis Centres 

Crisis centres around Finland offer help and support to citizens in crisis or trouble. Immediate assistance is also available at the local health care centre or occupational health care

Surunauha - Itsemurhan tehneiden läheiset ry. 

Surunauha is an association for the families and friends of people who have committed suicide. Among other things, it organises courses to support recovery and maintains a hotline based on peer support, as well as discussion forums in the Internet.