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International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day: Supporting survivors of suicide

11-17-17 Category: Coping, Mental Health, Recovery, Trauma

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day: Supporting survivors of suicide

“A person never truly gets ‘over’ a suicide loss. You get through it. Day by day. Sometimes it’s moment by moment.” – Holly Kohler

The statement aptly sums up the life of those who have lost someone to suicide. Despite the fact that their lives do not end, living every moment without the loved one becomes a daunting task. They survive but do not know how to start afresh.

Every year, the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is observed the world over for the people affected by suicide of a loved one. In 2017, it is being observed on November 18. On this day, they are expected to gather at their local community events to share their stories and show empathy for fellowmen sailing on the same boat. The day is observed to establish solidarity among the survivors and let them know that they are not alone in their struggle to heal and move on. This year, a documentary titled “The Journey: A Story of Healing and Hope” will be screened at all the events. This is a compelling documentary featuring six participants who meet after three years of their loss and share stories of healing and evolving.

Over a period, the survivors learn to accept and live with the loss. However, it is hard to get over the loss completely as it leaves an indelible impression on their minds. During the initial days, when they grapple with intense grief and shock, they need the presence and warmth of a friend or family member to pull through. But offering support to a suicide survivor can get overwhelming.

Here are some of the ways through which support can be extended to a suicide survivor and help him or her come to terms with the reality:

  1. Being a good listener: Oftentimes, people struggling with acute grief become silent and withdraw from social circle. They desire isolation to keep remembering the one they lost. The loved one or a friend should offer his or her support by being a good listener and let the survivor mourn and share grief. It is important to listen without judging anyone.
  2. Extending a helping hand: The grief of a suicide can incapacitate a person to the extent that one might not be able to attend to the daily chores. This is the time when one can pitch in and offer to cook, clean the house, walk the dog, do babysitting, shop for groceries, and so on.
  3. Being present during holidays: Holidays are times to rejoice with the loved ones but for a person who lost someone to suicide, celebrations can be a challenging time. Friends and family members should be around during such times to keep the grieving people engaged.
  4. Arranging for support: Connecting a suicide survivor with a support group can help him/her in getting associated with people with similar agonies. In addition, if nothing seems to comfort and the condition of the survivor doesn’t improve over time, maybe it is about time to arrange a meeting with the therapist.

Road to recovery

Helping a suicide survivor heal can take long. One needs to devote time and be patient. Memories of the person who committed suicide can continue to haunt the survivors for years. They may have a hard time maintaining relationships, focusing on work and finding happiness in anything they do. Frequent nightmares or flashbacks may translate into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is important to help such people connect with professional trauma treatment centers to learn coping strategies and continue living despite intense grief.

Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health treatment provider in the United States that offers comprehensive trauma treatment programs to patients. If you know someone who is undergoing any trauma, help them by calling our 24/7 helpline or chatting online with an expert.

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