COPING WITH LOSS AFTER SUICIDE

Coping with the loss of a family member, friend, peer, or patient after suicide is difficult. The time following the death by suicide of someone we love or work with can be confusing and painful. There may be many unanswered questions or feelings of guilt associated with the death. The process of coping with this loss is different for everyone. Each person experiences grief in their own way and in their own time. There is no right or wrong way to feel. If you have experienced such a loss, you may find that the way you feel and the intensity of these feelings changes over the course of time. Those who have lost someone to suicide, also referred to as survivors of suicide, are not alone, and it is important for you to seek help or to assist others in seeking help and support when it is needed.

Below are a number of resources that can help you or someone you know cope with the loss. Support may come from health professionals, chaplains, family members, friends, or trusted peers. Peers can include other Sailors and Marines or civilian survivors of suicide. Peer support groups and online forums enable you to talk to people with similar experiences. You may find strength and hope by listening and talking to others who have experienced a similar loss.

Helping Resources

  • The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) can help connect survivors of suicide with others who have experienced a similar loss and provide support and other resources. Grief counseling, peer mentor support, and the TAPS National Military Survivor Helpline (800-959-TAPS (8277)) are just a few examples of the many resources offered by TAPS. Visit the TAPS website at www.taps.org/suicide for more information.
  • Visit the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) for helpful information for survivors of suicide, clinician-survivors of suicide (clinicians who have lost patients to suicide), and suicide attempt survivors. Visit www.suicidology.org/suicide-survivors/suicide-loss-survivors for more information.
  • The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury have a number of resources on their website, www.dcoe.mil.
  • The Navy Suicide Prevention Web Page includes resources to encourage open communication, peer support, resilience, and bystander intervention through their "Every Sailor, Every Day" campaign. For more information visit http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/21st_Century_Sailor/suicide_prevention/spmonth/Pages/default.aspx.
  • Your local medical treatment facility (MTF), branch health clinic, and Fleet and Family Support Center can help provide you with professional or peer support or refer you to other effective local resources. To find a resource near you, visit www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil.
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