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suicide + mental illness 

Suicide - Prevention Intervention Postvention.jpg

excerpted from: 
"SUICIDE | Prevention, Intervention, Postvention" 

by Earl A. Grollman 

Pages 118- 121. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston. Copyright 1988.

3 minute read

Help for Families of Suicide

When all else has failed, there should be help for the living victims. Those who are left behind following a suicide often feel implicated in ways not generally experienced following other forms of death. The fact that the person chose to die makes a significant difference. Survivor-victims may feel a sense of scandal or disgrace and abandonment by friends. And for all there is the dreadful, haunting question, "Why?"


In many cities and towns, there are self-help organizations for families and friends of suicide. Therse are not therapy groups in the sense that participants are understood to be mentally ill. Usually there are no psychologists or therapists present. Rather, these organizations are opportunities for individuals to come together around a common experience, to share their stories and feelings, and to gain the support such sharing can provide.

One group, Ray of Hope, in Columbus Junction, Iowa, states:

Just as potential suicides need the opportunity to express their feelings in a supportive, empathetic nonjudgmental atmosphere, so do the bereaved need to relate to others in the same situation and in the same way.

OUR AIMS are to:

View suicide as a social, health and spiritual problem which can be treated.

Develop the use of mutual support groups for aiding the entire family in suicide situations.

Help provide comfort and support for the bereaved.

Bring together the bereaved with “significant others” who are concerned about someone, so through sharing their experience and growth, they may gain insights into behavior patterns and interpersonal relationships.

Co-operate with community health agencies in referring members to seek additional help if they desire, realizing that professional services and support groups supplement each other although they function in different ways.

Conduct research into the normal and atypical grief processes following suicide.

Present seminars called SUICIDE: BEFORE AND AFTER, designed to inform gate-keepers (both professionals and lay persons) of the psychological first-aid for dealing with suicide situations (recognizing clues, learning responses, understanding motives, dispelling myths, etc.); and in understanding the grief process.

Another group of caring people who are experiencing the pain of a loved one’s suicide call themselves Safe Place of Stamford, Connecticut. To encourage newcomers to come they write.




We’ve been helped. We want to help you.

We ask only that you not judge how others grieve.

We see changes in ourseves and in others in the course of time.

We know that you will find friendship and support at our once-a-month meetings.

Help is available to you in many ways through:

  • Airing your feelings – we need to talk about it…

  • Listening to others do likewise…

  • Being able to phone another survivor, when you’re having a bad day…

  • Gaining strength through association with those who demonstrate that they can, and are "surviving"…


As you slowly, positively, reconstruct your life, you will benefit from the greatest healer – the knowledge that you will eventually be helping others—who, in months to come, will be on





Friends For Survival, organized by and for survivors, offers bereavement support to survivors of suicide through a variety of peer support services that provide suicide grief support, encourage healing and growth, foster the development of skills to cope with a suicide loss and educate the community regarding the impact of suicide. [Friends for Survival is also the fiscal sponsor of the Grievers Library.]

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