The Role of Survivors in Preventing Suicide

If you are thinking of hurting yourself, or if you are concerned that someone else may be suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

When I got home, there was a phone message from my mother. I knew from her voice that something was very wrong. When I called her back and asked, “What happened?” she said she couldn’t tell me, that it was too difficult. I insisted, and she replied with words I will never forget: “Kathy’s dead.” I went numb and dropped the phone. When I picked up the phone, my mother told me that Katherine had taken her own life. I couldn’t believe it. Why? I was brought into the world with an older sister, and I didn’t know how to make sense of it without her. I was devastated. As the weeks passed, I needed support, but my friends and family seemed uncomfortable talking with me about Kathy’s death. I felt alienated and alone. Finding a survivor support group helped me: at last it felt okay to talk about being angry at Kathy and missing her at the same time. Although my life will never be the same, I am beginning to find time to focus on other things.


The Loss of a Loved One by Suicide

Suicide takes the lives of about 34,000 people in the U.S. each year (CDC, 2007). Each of these deaths reverberates through our homes, workplaces, schools, religious organizations, and the other social net- works. Those experiencing the suicide of a family member, friend, or colleague are referred to as “survivors.”

With suicide, survivors face not only the loss of someone close to them, but also the difficult feelings connected to the way the person died. Surviving a suicide can involve a range of feelings like shock, sadness, numbness, depression, guilt, anger, confusion, and relief. Some survivors may find they can’t sleep or eat, or they may lack energy. Many survivors struggle to understand the reasons for the suicide, asking themselves “Why?” over and over again. They may replay their loved ones’ last days, searching for answers. Survivors may also fear negative reactions from others, causing them to feel ashamed or isolated. They may find it challenging to talk with friends or acquaintances about the death.

What helps survivors to heal from suicide loss? Many survivors find it helpful to consider that events and circumstances leading up to a suicide are complicated, often involving a combination of painful suffering, hopelessness, and mental illness. In fact, most people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness at the time of their death. 

It helps survivors to know that they are not alone in their loss. Getting support from other survivors can help build understanding and reduce isolation. Some survivors have found or created resources that support their healing. These pages feature many of those resources.

THE HOPE CONNECTION - Suicide Survivors Support Group

Led by Amber and Bret

We meets on the 1st & 3rd Mondays of the month at 7pm

For more information contact Bret at

Learn More

Get more information about the role of survivors of suicide, taking care of yourself, coping, risk and protective factors an more in this guide provided by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center

 Download the Survivors of Suicide Fact Sheet

Material copyright Suicide Prevention Resource Center |