Suicide and its lasting effects on family and friends
Suicide is a tragedy that has far-reaching and long-lasting effects on family members. It can be difficult to comprehend the magnitude of suicide’s impact, but it affects everyone differently. For those closest to the suicide victim, feelings of guilt, grief, and confusion often linger long after the suicide has occurred. These feelings can be compounded when suicide is seen as a personal failure or an act of selfishness.
The suicide of a family member can have far-reaching implications for surviving relatives. Grief is an inevitable reaction to suicide, regardless of whether the suicide was expected or unexpected. There may also be practical concerns such as funeral planning and financial matters to consider. The suicide may also bring up questions about why it happened in the first place and whether anything could have been done to prevent it.
In addition to these immediate reactions, there are numerous long-term consequences that can affect family members after suicide. These can include feelings of anger, shame, guilt, depression, anxiety and isolation from friends and family; difficulty concentrating at work or school; inability to trust friends or partners; difficulty expressing emotions; fearfulness; nightmares; flashbacks; physical symptoms such as headaches and digestive problems; and increased risk for suicide themselves. Other lasting consequences for survivors can include difficulties in forming relationships due to fears that history will repeat itself, mistrusting others due to guilt associated with the suicide death, feeling responsible for their loved one’s death even when objective evidence proves otherwise, feeling disconnected from their own sense of self with overwhelming sadness consuming them instead of joyous moments once shared with their loved one who died by suicide.
It is important for those affected by suicide loss to seek help if needed so they don’t try to cope alone. Counselling through either individual therapy or support groups can help survivors process their grief and develop coping strategies which will reduce the long-term effects of suicide on family members. Talking openly with friends and family members about how they are feeling can provide much-needed emotional relief during this difficult time as well as help build resilience against future stressors related to the suicide loss experience. In some cases medication may be prescribed by a doctor depending on each person’s individual needs in order to manage depression or anxiety due to grief associated with suicide loss.