Dealing with the aftermath of a completed suicide is a very difficult and special kind of grief. Survivors are left with feelings of guilt, sadness, and anger.
Guilt - Very often survivors of a suicide are left wondering what they could have done to help the person who took their own life. Perhaps they saw signs that the person was depressed, upset, or suicidal – or perhaps they did not see any signs at all. If they tried to talk to the person, they may feel: “maybe I didn't do enough” or if they did not notice anything they may feel: “I should have paid more attention” or “what could I have done better.”
The most important thing to remember is that suicide is an irrational act, one that trained mental health professionals often have great difficulty predicting and preventing. You did the best you could in your interactions and the deceased made a choice that you cannot change.
Anger - Survivors of a suicide frequently feel anger at the deceased. "How could they be so selfish to hurt all of us in this way?" is a question often asked. "Didn't they think of their family and/or all of the people who cared about them?" Anger is a normal part of any stress, but with all of these unanswered questions, it is a common element after a suicide.
It is important to recognize your anger at the deceased, verbalize it, and perhaps clarify it for yourself by writing the deceased a letter or talking to them out loud. It is vital not to focus all of your energy on anger, however, because this will keep you away from another difficult, but very healing reaction to attempted suicide: Sadness.
Sadness - It could also be referred to as pain, sorrow, tearfulness, or hurt…but by any name sadness is the most raw feeling associated with the loss of someone you care about. The intense feelings of sadness are best shared with friends and family who can offer support through this difficult time.
Experiencing this sadness, like experiencing all of the feelings discussed above, will help to move you towards healing. This process will facilitate putting this experience, as difficult as it is, in perspective.
Remember, the suicide was not your fault and it is important to talk to supportive others about your feelings and reactions. If you would like to talk to a counselor, contact the Counseling Center at 765-285-1736. We offer free and confidential services to students.
Copyright © 2013 Ball State University 2000 W. University Ave. Muncie, IN 47306
800-382-8540 and 765-289-1241