Someone you know has lost someone to suicide and you want to help. But how? These simple suggestions are what people grieving a suicide have told us helped them most.
If you are the one who has lost someone to suicide, print out this page and share it with your friends and family. It will help them know what to do, and will save you from having to tell them how to help you. You don’t have to do all the work alone.
How can I help someone who is grieving?
Reach out. Be there. Your very presence will be comforting and reassuring.
Follow the lead of the person who is grieving. Some survivors of suicide loss find it helpful to talk about the details of the death, share pictures of their loved one, cry, or express their intense emotions. Others prefer not to.
Listen with your full attention.
Don't be afraid to ask about their loved one or to say their loved one's name. It hurts so much more when no one talks about the person they lost.
Offer to help with specific tasks. Instead of saying, “I’m here if you need me” or “Tell me what I can do to help,” ask, “Can I help by…”
...picking your kids up from school?
...walking the dog?
...helping with the grocery shopping?
...helping with funeral arrangements?
...picking someone up at the airport?
...making phone calls?
...organizing your mail?
Write down a story about their loved one, especially if you have a story they might not have heard. When you know they are ready, share it with them.
Remember that everyone deals with loss differently. Learn more about what survivors of suicide loss go through in the Personal Stories section.
Become more educated about what causes suicide in the Understanding Suicide section.
Order a copy of Reaching Out After Suicide: What’s Helpful and What’s Not, A Guide for More Effective Support of Survivors of Suicide Loss by Linda H. Kilburn, M.S.W., who survived her daughter’s suicide, available from KP Associates LLC (firstname.lastname@example.org).