A member of my community took his life. It was a sudden and traumatic loss and while some people treated his widow with kindness, she shared that she was unprepared for the hurtful actions of others. For example, she saw a friend walking towards her one morning in our small town. The friend saw her too and she quickly crossed the street to avoid her. A colleague also shared a hurtful experience following the suicide of her physician brother. Though she was a child, she vividly remembers the sound of her neighbor’s footsteps as she crossed their wooden porch. When her mother answered the loud knock, the neighbor asked, “Jean, how’d he do it?”

It’s shocking to hear that someone has taken their life but even more shocking to learn that people do not give the bereaved the same support they give for other deaths. Why should we shy away from someone who is grieving just because their loved one took their life? As one widow states, “My husband was a good man and lived a good life; he just chose to end it badly.”

When you learn that someone has died and the cause of death is suicide, please do the same things that you would do to comfort and support the bereaved. They’ll need your support now and for a long time to come. It’s just the right thing to do.

Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.


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Comment by Maria Arellano on April 25, 2010 at 8:29pm
My brother passed last year June 10,2009. Suicide is how he passed. His passing has been so difficult for my family and I! We are eight siblings and very very united. His death has hurt me to the core! It is very difficult to continue without him. But day with day I try so very hard to coutinue on because of my children. My daughter was 2 months old when he passed and I felt like dying! I couldn't even hold my daughter the first days after his death. My Brother and I were so close, I looked at him like a father I never had and he was my bestfriend! I miss him so very much and I wish so bad I could have one more moment of time with him! But I know I will see him again! It is so hard to accept he is no longer with us. He was a HUGE part of my life, that I am who I am today and I going to be tomorrow. I LOVE U RUBEN!!!
Comment by Christine on March 22, 2010 at 11:38pm
Kaz, there is a great yahoo on-line support group for survivors of suicide, those of us left behind. I lost my husband to suicide on July 1, 2007. The support I received from the on-line group was wonderful. I am also deeply involved in the AFSP, although they don't have a support group, they have great resources to direct you.
Comment by Robbie Miller Kaplan on March 22, 2010 at 2:30pm
My deepest condolences on your loss Kaz. I'm hoping you'll find a supportive group to help. Try this link:
Or, you can use any search engine and enter "suicide support group"
If that doesn't help, try "suicide support group" with a plus sign (+) and wherever you live.
Comment by kaz on March 22, 2010 at 2:04pm
i really need some help, i have been hunting online for some sort of support group can anybody help me? my dad committed suicide at new years and until now i have dealt relatively well, i carried on with my life and pretended to everyone that i was fine buty due to an incident in my life i now cannot cope with it all, i am a complete mess. please can anyone help me?
Comment by Robbie Miller Kaplan on March 1, 2010 at 8:14am
My deepest condolences Mandy on the death of your dear friend. Many people report what you've shared that suicide is a very sad death and difficult to deal with. It is not unusual to struggle and have trouble coming to terms with this, so it might be both helpful and important for you to see a mental health professional for some guidance and support. There are suicide survivor support groups to help as well to help you navigate your loss.
Comment by Mandy on March 1, 2010 at 7:52am
Suicide is such a sad sad death. I lost my dear friend to suicide 4 months ago. He spoke to me the night he was ending his life. I had no idea but I guess that's the way he wanted it!! I'm devastated and find it hard to move on. I can still hear his voice and his laugh. I miss him so much, sometimes I feel like joining him. So many unanswered questions. WHY??? Life is sad!!
Comment by Fay F. Martin on January 15, 2010 at 6:27pm
My father committed suicide and there were a few people at the funeral home that we did not know and they were talking and leaning over the casket like they were trying to see how he did it. It taught me a lot about how to treat others because that is the most devastating death on family members left behind, Wondering why, what could I have done, where was I, why didn't we know just how desperate he was. But most people were good and supportive...like I will be to some else one day.
Comment by sheila on January 7, 2010 at 9:07pm
My husband committed suicide last February. My family and his were wonderful, kind and supportive. One of my doctors, though, said some very odd things. When he asked how my husband did it and I told him he used helium gas, my doctor said, "Well at least he didn't leave you a mess to clean up".
Comment by Bethany on July 2, 2009 at 10:58am
The minute ppl hear someone has passed away, the first question is allways how? The first thing said should be I'm sorry. Maybe how is a question one does not want to answer.

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