After a Youth Suicide

Suicide is the most traumatic of all losses that evokes a special, complicated form of grief.  The grief associated with a suicide may take 3 to 5 times longer than other kinds of death to process.  It includes shock, denial, disbelief, guilt, and shame. Acknowledgement of the loss and expressions of caring and concern can be very supportive to family members. 

Many families who have lost a loved one to suicide say they are comforted by visits and messages from friends of the deceased.

Sharing a special memory/story with the family can help to direct the focus away from the manner of death to the life of the individual who died.  Using the person’s name is also important as are phone calls/visits at holidays, on the person’s birthday and anniversary of death.

Hospice Programs and The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Maine are equipped to provide grief support and information on local helping resources as does the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention--Maine Chapter.   A list of grief support centers in Maine can be found at American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Support Group.

For those who are unable to attend a group in person, GriefNet.org may provide an alternative.  GriefNet.org is an Internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss.  They have almost 60 e-mail support groups and two web sites.  The integrated approach to on-line grief support provides help to people working through losses and grief issues of many kinds including suicide.  The companion site, KIDSAID, provides a safe environment for children and their parents to find information and ask questions. 

Other resources: